Women’s Euro: England crowned at home

English football fans have been waiting for their first title since Bobby Charlton’s gang got their hands on the 1966 World Cup. Deliverance did not come from the men’s team as they had imagined, beaten a while ago. year at home in the final of the Euro by Italy, but women’s football. Sunday July 31 in London, the “Three Lionesses” won their first European championship, which they organized, by defeating Germany in the final, at the end of the extension (victory 2-1).

The English have long been on par with a Germany already accustomed to European honors – eight times titled at the Euro – but deprived, a few minutes before kick-off, of its captain and top scorer, Alexandra Popp, executioner of the France team in the previous round and victim of “muscular problems” during warm-up. Sarina Wiegman’s players had to wait for the hour mark to find the opening thanks to Ella Toone, at the conclusion of a counter-attack with a subtle lob on the German goalkeeper (1-0, 62nd). Before falling back too much and then conceding the equalizer by Lina Magull, cutting off a low center from Tabea Wassmuth (1-1, 79th).

87,000 spectators

Extra time, and a possible penalty shootout, would decide the winner. The meeting definitely tipped over to the English side when Chloe Kelly took advantage of a mess at the reception of a corner to place a sharp close (2-1, 111th), capsizing the mythical enclosure of Wembley and its over 87,000 spectators. Either the record for a European championship match, men and women combined. “It’s the moment of my life that I’m most proud of. (…) I won’t sleep all week, confided the English captain Leah Williamson after the final, at the microphone of the BBC. What this tournament will leave is above all the change in society. That’s all we’ve done together bringing people to the games, but what this team will leave behind are winners and that’s just the beginning of the journey. »

Three years after the World Cup organized in France, which had already concretized the upward trajectory of women in football, and despite the slowdown in this progress due, since 2020, to the Covid-19 pandemic, the English Euro ends on an undeniable popular success. With nearly 575,000 cumulative supporters present in English stadiums in July, the influx of this Euro pulverizes the best mark for the women’s continental competition, which was achieved five years ago in the Netherlands with half as many spectators. . “Your success goes far beyond the trophy you so well deserved. You have all set an example that will inspire girls and women today and for generations to come,” said in a press release Queen Elizabeth II, who now only speaks on very rare occasions.

At the national level, this success also validates the choice as coach of the Dutchwoman Sarina Wiegman, undefeated since taking office in September 2021, she who had led the Netherlands to the European title in 2017 and to the final of the World Cup 2019. One year from the next World Cup and two years from the Paris Olympics, this title also crowns a country that has returned to the map of women’s football in Europe in recent years, thanks to a major reform decided in 2017 by the English Federation and aimed at professionalizing its championship.



Football: without an audience, refereeing no longer favors the home team

Unless the Delta variant gets involved and causes new health constraints, fans will be able to take advantage of Messi’s arrival in the stands of the Parc des Princes in mid-September. Between cries, banners and songs, the support of the public plays a decisive role for the home team, which the most ardent supporters will not deny. But with the coronavirus epidemic, many meetings have taken place behind closed doors or with a very small audience.

→ ANALYSIS. When the camera spoils the sporting spectacle

So lost the famous home advantage? Yes, on the arbitration side in any case, according to a study conducted by researchers from the department of neurosciences at the University of Salzburg, Austria, published this Thursday, August 19 in the journal Frontiers in Sports. Not that the players lack encouragement, but simply because the referees are more “neutral” when they are not under pressure from the stands.

No more yellow cards for home players

Nearly 1,300 matches from the top European leagues were studied, both in the 2018-2019 season with the public, and in the 2019-2020 season behind closed doors or with a small audience. During this last period, the referees distributed more yellow cards to the home teams than normal. The number of cards for the teams playing away did not change.

Our study is not a critique of arbitration, insisted on Michael Leitner, co-author of the study. Simply, the pressure exerted on the referees during matches is immense (…) And our decisions depend heavily on the environment, the situation and the people present. It should be noted that the number of yellow cards for unsportsmanlike behavior has on the other hand decreased with the absence of an audience, regardless of the team.

→ TRIBUNE. Amateur sport challenged by the coronavirus

These results are in line with those of a previous German study, published at the end of March in the journal Plos One. By focusing on professional but also amateur meetings, the researchers noticed that the difference in penalties between the home team and the visiting team disappears in the absence of an audience, ” which is in line with previous experiences showing that referees use the reactions of the stands to assess the severity of a fault “.