England is getting Women’s Euro 2022 fever after the Lionesses kick-started their campaign with a record-breaking 8-0 win over Norway on Tuesday night.
The thrashing of the two-time European champions has raised hopes that hosts England could claim a first major title in the women’s game later this month.
And patriotic football fans are throwing their support behind Sarina Wiegman’s team in growing numbers, adding to fervent pre-tournament interest.
Almost 5m Brits watched England’s stunning win over Norway live on BBC1 and the broadcaster’s digital platforms.
A peak TV audience of 4.1m saw Beth Mead score a hat-trick, while a further 780,000 tuned in via online streams.
That was up from the 3.7m peak audience that tuned in for the much-anticipated Women’s Euro 2022 opening match, in which England beat Austria 1-0, last week.
The Football Association has also seen strong interest in its England Women content on YouTube.
Its daily Lionesses Live online broadcast from team camp has proved a hit, with one show attracting a peak audience of 717,000, the FA said.
England’s perfect start to the championship has topped up excitement that had already built before it kicked off in Manchester a week ago.
The FA reports unprecedented demand for England Women’s replica kits this summer. In anticipation of huge demand, it ordered three times as much stock as was sold when the 2019 World Cup launched. Sales on the official England online store have already broken records, a spokesperson told City A.M.
Ticket sales at Women’s Euro 2022 have also reached new highs. The 68,871 at Old Trafford for England’s opening win over Austria was the biggest crowd ever recorded at the European Championship.
And it’s not just England matches. The games between Spain and Finland on Friday and holders the Netherlands and Sweden on Saturday both set new records for group-stage fixtures not involving the host team.
Organisers have sold more than half a million tickets, more than double the total sales at the last edition of the tournament.
The growing interest could also be good news for the economy ahead of England’s next game, against Northern Ireland, on Friday in Southampton.
Supporters are forecast to spend £175m, with more than £38m on hospitality alone, when an expected 4.7m Britons watch the match.
“It’s great to see so much support for the England team,” said former Lioness Sue Smith, an ambassador for VoucherCodes.co.uk, which carried out the spending research. “I speak from experience when I say fan support means the world when you are out there on the pitch.
“As England goes head to head with Northern Ireland on Friday, many fans will be flocking to the pub to show support or choosing to host BBQs and parties at home. This game alone is set to bring in £175m and it sets a real precedent for the rest of the tournament.
“Hopefully the further England goes, the stronger the support will be and if England win the economy will get a great boost, so it’ll be win-win.”
The landslide against Norway means that England have already qualified for the quarter-finals of Women’s Euro 2022.
They are set to play the runners-up from Group B, likely to be Spain or Germany, in the last eight on Wednesday week. The sold-out final is at Wembley on 31 July.