by Hassnah Elhage & Leonne Stentler
COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, has impacted our lives in ways we do not yet understand and has paralyzed the sports industry. For us, as two women in football, we have decided to do something we have wanted to do for a while. Voice our opinions about issues that matter to us, and the sport we love so much. We’re kicking off with a humble hint to the UEFA: let us have a men-free WEURO Summer.
So why this blog? Yesterday the UEFA confirmed that the EURO 2020 – or as we like to call it the Men’s European Championships – is officially postponed to 2021. Now, the reason why this move is significant in our industry, is that we were working on a different EURO 2021…the Women’s European Championship. While it has also been confirmed that an appropriate date to reschedule the WEURO 2021 is being considered, so far no dates have been reported. Two possibilities being floated around are:
- Reschedule the WEURO21 to take place after the MEURO21
- Move the WEURO21 to 2022
And we have strong opinions about these possibilities.
To dive straight in: moving the men’s EURO will have significant consequences for both the perception as well as the commercial value of the EURO2021 – the WEURO21. We’re going to take you through some of our thoughts about these consequences, and why we want the women to have their own European Football Summer.
One Summer, Two Tournaments
Let’s tackle our least favorite option first – the WEURO will take place right after the MEURO. Please don’t do this. We have long (always) lived in a world where women’s football was not given the time, investment and opportunity it deserved. We have finally gotten to the point where the sport has taken off and is demanding its place in the football world. As we have seen in history, in times of crisis, it is the women’s team that is the first to be sacrificed. And we’re tired of this trend.
“But wait, aren’t we sacrificing the men first” – Male twitter
While some argue that it is the MEURO that is being sacrificed by being moved up a year, we don’t see this as a sacrifice, as much as a necessity. The tournament is not being moved in favor of something else, it is being postponed to safeguard players in a time of a pandemic. Again, a necessity, and we applaud the UEFA for taking this decision. Always protect your players first. But also, let’s be realistic. The world might be heading into a financial crisis of unknown sorts, this move is also a chance for the UEFA to allow its partners and sponsors to recover a bit. It is a strategic and necessary decision to cover all bases for all stakeholders involved. There is no other choice. A real sacrifice would be to cancel this tournament, organise a Nation’s Cup final in its place, which leads us straight to the Men’s World Cup. But that is a story for another time.
So why are we opposed to scheduling the WEURO right after the MEURO? While we can and usually do watch football 24/7, chances are fans will not embrace back to back tournaments in the same way they would if the tournaments were a year apart. The women’s game is finally getting traction and is growing exponentially every year. It is relevant. And it needs the space and its own podium to continue this growth. Yes, some argue that the fan base between the men and women is different, but we argue that you should allow people to choose both, and not one or the other. Give the women’s game the chance to grow to its full potential, because we are only getting started.
Secondly, from a commercial perspective, back to back tournaments sound like a total nightmare. Because the WWC and the WEURO have steadily grown into successful tournaments, the game’s commercial value has also grown exponentially. Not only are the tournaments finally televised, they are constantly breaking records. So what happens when you have two big commercially interesting tournaments, in a close vicinity, back to back? The women will be sacrificed, commercial partners that previously considered both tournaments, will look at their fiscal year and choose a predetermined safe option. Especially the year after a financial crisis.
We’ll see the value of the women’s tournament be measured up against that of the men, and we will see less financial gain as a direct consequence of that. This will affect the relationship with media partners, sponsors and partners alike. We’ll also see women’s leagues having to either be pushed back as, or start without their national team players. Again, we will see the women be sacrificed.
Move.that.WEURO – Don’t let history repeat itself
The coronavirus has and will continue to impact our lives in ways we still don’t really know or understand. We will feel this impact and it will affect us all. While these are things we cannot control, we can make sure that history does not repeat itself. We can give the women the podium they deserve to continue to #breakbarriers. We can give them a men-free football summer, and move the WEURO to 2022.