Can Barcelona's Record-Breaking Attendance Inspire A Euro 2022 Frenzy In England?

Over 91,000 gathered at the Camp Nou to watch El Clasico
14:00, 31 Mar 2022

The 30th March 2022 will be forever etched into the history of women’s football as a significant cultural milestone was reached in Spain. In the Champions League quarter-final second-leg at Camp Nou between Barcelona and Real Madrid, a record crowd of 91,533 were there to witness a female El Clasico on the European stage.

Every supporter in attendance has helped contribute to a significant moment in the women’s game and the match on display was one worthy of a record-breaking crowd. The reigning European champions inflicted a heavy 5-2 defeat on their bitter rivals, with the aggregate score finishing up as 8-3 to propel the reigning champions into the semi-finals. The atmosphere was electric and Barcelona have once again set themselves as the model to follow in the women’s game, and not just for their football. The previous highest turnout for a women’s game was back in 2019 when 60,739 witnessed Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-0 at Wanda Metropolitano.

While the game itself from a footballing perspective was important, the main focus was on how much of a turning point this could be for women’s football moving forward. There has already been widespread coverage of this significant moment and following on from English teams in the Women’s Super League at the weekend, this could initiate change that could see clubs having their women’s teams playing more frequently at major stadiums, with the profile of the sport growing rapidly in recent years.

Then there is of course Euro 2022 just around the corner which is hosted in England and Barcelona’s gargantuan attendance has come at the perfect time in the build-up to the summer spectacle, which is set to see another increase in interest for the sport, particularly in England. The English game has been working hard over the last couple of years to raise its profile and there has been great support from broadcasters and former players alike. We have seen a lot more people go and support their club’s women’s side, especially during a men’s international break and there has been steady progress on and off the pitch. Nothing has been quite as impactful as the Spanish game, but there is certainly going to be a lot of inspiration taken from last night’s match to help the fanaticism reach the same levels on these shores.

Most English clubs play in separate stadiums to the men’s teams but as we saw over the weekend, if they are given the chance to play on the same turf, there is likely going to be more interest generated from supporters who in a lot of cases will not have to do as much travelling. Old Trafford saw its first women’s game in front of a crowd and it was a sight to behold as the Red Devils won and the players got to basque in the glory of their triumph in the Theatre of Dreams and with the expressions on their faces, they could get used to playing in these surroundings. We've seen bumper attendances in North London and Manchester and it seems the hype is growing ahead of the Euros.

This is where England boss Sarina Wiegman and her Lionesses come in. Following their triumph in the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup in February, along with their general strong form since the former Netherlands boss took charge, the expectation for this summer’s Euros has grown exponentially. There is no doubt that England will be one of the favourites, not least for being the host nation, but there is so much talent in their ranks and success in the summer could be another catalyst in raising the profile of the women’s game in this country and hopefully it can start with some high attendances at the Euros.

It is worth noting that Wednesday evening’s crowd at Europe’s largest stadium beat the record for spectators at a women’s international, set when 80,203 fans saw the United States secure Olympic gold by beating Japan 2-1 at Wembley during London 2012 - so the UK is no stranger to magnificent attendances when it comes to women’s football. Hopefully we get to see some more impressive numbers later this year.

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