The England women’s national soccer team has been given training priority over the men’s team as it prepares to host the upcoming UEFA European Championship.
Women’s captain Leah Williams applauded the decision, saying that the women’s game was shown “respect.” She added that, as a result of the decision, the Lionesses will be better prepared for July’s Euros than any other major tournament before.
“If you’d have gone back a couple of years this wouldn’t have been the case, and that’s just factual, so the fact that is happening now is a big step in the right direction.” Williamson said. “This is something that’s important. Women’s football is on a journey.
“The respect that we’ve been given and the respect that our tournament has been given, bearing in mind we have a Euros in the summer, and the preparation and the facilities that we have access to — year-on-year you just notice an increase.
“And it comes down to things like money, obviously, but also it’s that level of respect the women’s game is getting, from the work that we’re doing. There’s no stone left unturned in these preparations.”
The team’s first full training session of the summer took place on Sir Bobby Charlton pitch, while the men’s team trained on a lower-tier pitch. The men’s U-21 and women’s U-19 sides will also train at the facility this week.
According to Telegraph Sport, the men’s team staff felt that the Women’s Euros tournament should take precedence.
Despite the training sessions, though, not everyone has viewed the treatment of the July tournament as a win for equality. In April, Iceland captain Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir called some of the venue choices “shocking” and “embarrassing.”
The venues’ capacities range from Manchester City Academy Stadium to Wembley. The final at Wembley has already sold out, as have at least eight other matches in the tournament.