England to the FIFA World Cup final. What does this do to the country?
“It's not too bad so far.” I cannot say that there was mass madness in England. For example, supermarkets are not stocked with personal items. If the World Cup had been held in England itself, things would have been different. And now they play on the other side of the world.
“There is huge media interest in the World Cup. There are long previews and afterthoughts on television surrounding each match. The morning before the semi-final match against Australia, the newspaper had reported that the sun Clear the entire front page to encourage English. 'Let the Matildas waltz past“, the newspaper headline, referring to the Australian team's nickname.”
Last year, England actually won the European title. How popular is women's football now?
“I don't know the exact numbers, but women's football is growing rapidly in England. The number of girls and young women playing football is increasing. I also saw pictures of older women playing a walking football tournament.
“The number of spectators at Women's Premier League matches is also increasing. A friend of mine goes to all of Chelsea's home matches with his daughter. It helps that the admission prices are somewhat lower than the men's. When the women's teams play in the stadiums of Chelsea or Arsenal for example For example, the stands are full and all tickets for the FA Cup at Wembley are sold out.
Why did the English team achieve this success?
“First of all, they have a strong generation. Almost all the players in the squad play for teams in the Premier League, which is a fairly tough competition. They play every week with the best players in the world. So they have a lot of experience at the highest level.
England are also strong in terms of presentation: the team is currently missing their top three players, injured or suspended, but still made it to the final.
Moreover, the country has good facilities. In May last year I was at the FA training facility. It is a large complex with lots of wellbeing and training options. Sports are very professional here.
“England started the World Cup very poorly. They had difficulty winning in the opening matches against Haiti and England could have easily lost to Nigeria in the first round of the knockout stage. England have really improved in the tournament.
And with coach Sarina Vigman, the English success also has a Dutch touch. How do the English view its role?
“It's practically divine.” Wegman is a national hero: she is greatly appreciated. She has now reached four major finals in a row: two with the Netherlands and two with England. This has never happened before in women's football.
“After winning the semi-final, Wegman received a letter of congratulations from King Charles. Earlier this year she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. If Wegman wins the final with England on Sunday, she could be awarded the noble title of 'Dame.' This is the highest honor you can achieve. There are not many athletes who hold this title.
Wiegman was praised for her communication with players. It's accessible, but also rigorous. After the victory in the semi-finals, one of the players of the English team wanted to celebrate, but Wegman immediately called him to order. “You can't celebrate until we win on Sunday,” she said.
About the final then. England will meet Spain on Sunday, which previously ousted the Netherlands. Do the English trust this?
'naturally. They are favorites. Last year, England beat Spain in the quarter-finals of the European Championship, but with difficulty. On the other hand, the Spanish showed that they could fight. However, England are expected to win their first World Cup title since 1966. Wegman, who have already lost the World Cup final to the Netherlands, will also be keen to win. “It will be a huge disappointment if it doesn’t work out.”
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