The 2021 European Championships (or ‘Euros’) have begun, with England’s opener against Croatia not only hitting a peak TV audience of 11.6 million, but also setting a new BBC iPlayer LIVE viewing record. Although the competition is a national event, many women have reported feeling slightly insecure watching such a male-dominated sport. Several claim that when trying to enjoy the games they have felt excluded – possibly due to the constant declarations by men that they don’t ‘understand’ the game enough if they don’t follow football year-round. Despite the fact our cities are filled with delirious chanting men in red and white, here’s why us girls can enjoy the Euros just as much as men:
First and foremost, a point that I’m sure has been repeated for all events taking place this year: Given the current climate, I think we can all appreciate a little healthy competition and something to lift national spirits. Although we are still under restrictions with Boris’ roadmap to freedom being delayed, the ability to watch a live football game and follow our country’s progress is certainly alleviating – it gives a community feel and acts as a great distraction from what has been an isolated and stressful year for many of us. Do we need any more reason to sit at the pub with our friends whilst men repeatedly throw their pints in the air and wildly cheer? Absolutely not. The fact we are all hoping for an England win not only brings us together but also reminds us of that sense of normality (bring back the World Cup Summer 2018!).
Furthermore, let us not forget that one of the main pundits this year is Alex Scott MBE, former female Arsenal footballer who played in the Euros four times over her career. Although seeing Gary Lineker on our screens is an instant reminder of the Euros, Scott is not only an amazing pundit but a representation of female football in our country. Her enthusiasm and civility prove this male-played competition is not just for male viewers. We, as women, can be inspired by her attitude to the game and support our country as a collection of genders.
Finally, this year stamps the tenth year England have taken part in the Euros – 10th time lucky?! Despite holding the record for participating the most years without winning, perhaps this year is our time to shine. You don’t need to know every rule of football to enjoy the game and escape into the football spirit – watching Mason Mount play every week is enough motivation, right? Let’s all come together as one to support our country in a competitive, engaging sport, against the best of the best from Europe –the only downside being that your brain will most definitely never hear the end of ‘Southgate you’re the one’–Let’s hope this year football really is coming home…
Words by: Holly Harrison
Edited by: Millie Reed