Football: historic Euros and attendance records
Over the course of the past year, women’s soccer has made progress both on and off the field, with England’s victory at Euro 2022 serving as the impetus for an increase in national interest.
At the beginning of the year, the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association agreed to changes that would guarantee maternity and long-term sickness coverage to players in the Women’s Super League and Championship. This was done in response to the disparities in the contractual rights of male and female players.
In the meantime, the players of the US Women’s National Team settled their six-year legal battle over equal pay by agreeing to a settlement worth $24 million plus bonuses to match the terms of the men. Additionally, US Soccer agreed to set up a fund with $2 million for players’ post-soccer careers and charitable efforts to grow the women’s game.
Since then, the Equal Pay for Team USA Act has been approved by the United States government, stating that all athletes representing
More history was made in March when 91,553 people attended Barcelona’s 5-2 victory over Real Madrid at the Nou Camp to advance to the Champions League semifinals, breaking the previous attendance record for a women’s match.
England’s women won the country’s first major football tournament since 1966 in the summer, unifying the nation with the genius of an Alessia Russo film, Beth Mead’s prolific scoring, and Chloe Kelly’s iconic Brandi Chastain-esque celebration after scoring the winner in extra time to defeat Germany in the final.
A staggering 574,875 tickets were sold, and the competition attracted a record-breaking global audience of more than 365 million people. With an attendance of 87,000 at Wembley Stadium, the final set an all-time record for a men’s or women’s Euros final.
After the Euros, England’s Keira Walsh signed for Barcelona from Manchester City for a record-breaking minimum of £350,000, more than Chelsea paid for Pernille Harder from Wolfsburg in 2020 for £250,000. After Lucy Bronze’s high-profile switch from City to Barcelona earlier this year, Walsh accomplished this by reuniting with her fellow member of the national team.
Since then, England’s Euros campaign has shown signs of gaining domestic support, with WSL attendances increasing from 3,000 in August 2020 to over 6,000 on average. In September, 47,367 people attended Arsenal Women’s 4-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium. In December, Manchester United Women broke their team record with 30,196 people attending their match against Aston Villa at Old Trafford. In addition, the Lionesses’ October international against the United States sold out in a matter of hours.
With government funding to build or improve up to 8,000 grassroots and multi-sport pitches in the UK by 2025 as part of a £230 million package that started in March with £25 million put toward over 170 facilities, women’s football continues to be the most played team sport for females in England at the grassroots level.
Undisputed champions, rising stars, and additional history in boxing
Women’s boxing reached new heights in 2022 as champions clashed, rising stars emerged, stages increased in size and splendor, opportunities increased, and interest multiplied while producing some of the sport’s most coveted storylines to lay the groundwork for further advancement over the following year.
In the first women’s boxing match to headline a card at New York’s renowned Madison Square Garden, Katie Taylor defeated Amanda Serrano, a nine-time seven-division champion, in a thrilling fight in April.
In February, Natasha Jonas beat Chris Namus to win the WBO title on the undercard of the grudge match between Amir Khan and Kell Brook, ending her long wait for a world title. The 38-year-old has since defeated Patricia Berghult by unanimous decision to win the WBC title during a homecoming fight in Liverpool. She then beat Marie-Eve Dicaire by unanimous decision to become unified champion and put her name in the running for Fighter of the Year.
In August, Ramla Ali made history by defeating Crystal Garcia Nova on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk in the first Saudi Arabian professional women’s fight.
Tokyo gold medallist Lauren Cost and previous Youth Olympic hero Caroline Dubois in the mean time graced the expert scene with their sparkling beginner records as they made ideal beginnings to their particular vocations.
Both made more history when they showed up on the UK’s originally broadcast all-female card at a sold-out O2 in October, which likewise saw Alycia Baumgardner beat Mikaela Mayer to become bound together title holder after a captivating development between the American opponents.
The long-awaited undisputed showdown between Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall was the main event of a historic night. The American won with a classy performance a decade after she lost her only career bout to the Silent Assassin as an amateur.
In November, Britain’s Chantelle Cameron joined the elite of boxing as well. She defeated Jessica McCaskill by unanimous decision to increase her record to 17-0 and become the undisputed super-lightweight champion.