LIVE: UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 kicks off
Wednesday: MOTD Live: UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 - (BBC One, 7pm)
It may still not be as huge as the men’s game, but women’s football continues to be on the rise – it’s no longer the poor relation, something to watch when the blokes aren’t on.
These days, we can all name members of our nation’s team; the time when they were anonymous figures are long gone. And the BBC deserves a pat on the back for partly being responsible for that – the corporation has backed the game for years, so it should be no surprise to find it’s broadcasting every match in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 tournament.
Barbara Slater, the BBC director of sport, says of the coverage: “This is our most ambitious broadcast commitment to a major women’s football tournament with the greatest share of matches on network television. Not long after I first started in this role, the BBC covered the 2009 Women’s Euros in Finland. The truth is there was limited audience interest, the total reach for the tournament was just 2.5 million.
“The springboard was London 2012, when 70-odd thousand people crammed into Wembley to watch Team GB’s women’s team beat the mighty Brazil. It was a moment in time, when we knew the sport was ready to move to the next level.
“We invested heavily in our coverage and in 2019, 27 million tuned into the Women’s World Cup in France on the BBC – the most watched sporting event of the year. Women’s football has developed beyond all recognition in the last decade and BBC Sport has been there every step of the way.”
The championships are the first major women’s football tournament to be hosted in England for 17 years, and back then, shamefully, it was very much a minority sport. However, this time, all 31 games will be broadcast live, with matches on BBC One and BBC Two as well as being available via the BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app.
Gabby Logan heads the presenting team, which also includes Reshmin Chowdhury and Eilidh Barbour. Among those providing expert analysis are Alex Scott, Ian Wright, Kelly Smith, Fara Williams, Lucy Ward and Sue Smith. On hand to offer insights into nations from mainland Europe are Laura George, Vicky Losada, Anouk Hoodendjik and Jonas Eidevall.
Sixteen teams are taking part, with most home interest focused on England and Northern Ireland. The Lionesses get the tournament started when they face Austria at Old Trafford in new manager Sarina Wiegman’s first competitive match in charge. Steph Houghton will not be there, however – the former captain’s absence from the squad seems to signal the end of an era.
Northern Ireland, who are featuring in their first-ever major tournament, start their campaign on Thursday against Norway at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton. Although England will be among the favourites, other nations to look out for include Sweden, France, Germany, Spain and holders the Netherlands.
And if you can’t get to a TV for certain fixtures, don’t worry – BBC Radio and BBC Sounds will have them covered for you. Listen out for podcasts and social media offerings too.