Samantha Miller spent the evening at the Generation XX event, which looked to recognise star athletes success in women’s sport and spoke to the Netherlands players about their historic home Euro 2017 win.
This summer the Dutch national side achieved something they surely could have never imagined doing, let alone in front of a record crowd of 28,182. The Netherlands sold out every match of their home European Championships and over 5.6 million people watched the video content across social media platforms. It was inspiring, and England will look to replicate the Netherlands’ success as they bid to host the Euros in 2021.
Arsenal Women have a core of Dutch international players in their team and latest signing, 21-year-old Vivianne Miedema, one of the top forwards in Europe said: “We didn’t expect to win the Euros, it was amazing for us to experience everything at home, after the Euros we went on the street and everyone recognised us, it’s really big right now in the Netherlands.”
Uefa head of marketing Peter Willems added: “There’s clearly something changing in women’s football, its growing in popularity. We had hoped for a successful Euros. A lot of goals were achieved and we are really happy with the outcome, viewer-wise and with the impact it has on the host country.
“Uefa have made a marketing plan to develop women’s football over the next five years, we’ve received really good backing financially, the We Play Strong campaign looks to grow women’s football as the number one sport in our 55 associations. We want to grow the participation. The Euros had 165 million people watching on TV. We want to grow engagement.”
It’s not often women’s football gets more views than the men’s game, and while the final didn’t match the men’s Euro 2016 viewing figures, it did have higher viewing figures than the Europa League final, which Dutch side Ajax reached.
“We were expecting a lot of support and that really helped us through the tournament. The players from England couldn’t believe how many orange shirts there were. I think that really helped us win the Euros,” said Arsenal women’s Dominique Janssen, who made sure the celebrations in England were kept to a minimum in order to respect her English teammates after knocking them out 3-0 in the semi-final, in front of 27,093 fans.
“I think the Euros gives women’s football in Holland a more positive view. We didn’t get that much attention before. It would definitely inspire more people if England host the Euros, more people will come to the FAWSL games which will mean bigger crowds,” continues Janssen.
Netherlands goalkeeper Sari Van Veenandaal agrees with her teammate: “The national team is really big at the moment because we won the Euros, I think that’s the impact of winning the Euros, especially because we were hosting.
“I think the league in Holland is growing buts it’s still not at the same level as here in England. You can see hosting the Euros is massive; especially when you get the fans behind you, it’s amazing.”
For Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby, who saw the effect both on and off the pitch of the orange sea first hand view, hosting Euro 2021 in England is hugely attractive, not just for the players as individuals, but for the growth of the women’s game as a whole: “Having the Euros in England would be a massive step for women’s football in this country, the game is growing more and more and people are watching it when it is televised too.
“Hosting a major tournament will no doubt spur a huge growth in the numbers of young girls and boys going out on the pitch to play football, which is what we aspire to inspire every time we go on the pitch.
“We’ve seen the game go from strength to strength after the 2015 World Cup and Euro 2017 and it will only get bigger and better if we are able to host the Euros in this country”.
Follow Samantha at @samantham7pd