For those who made it to Old Trafford on Wednesday night, the first game of UEFA Women's EURO 2022 was one of the most emotionally rich atmospheres any of us will ever experience inside a football stadium. 68,871 fans piled into Old Trafford to break an all-time attendance record for the Women’s European Championship, in a loud and proud symbol of how far the women’s game has come.
Lionesses shirts dominated the terraces, St. George’s flag was painted onto a sea of faces in the stands, and ‘Sweet Caroline’ sandwiched the 90 mins of on-pitch action in traditional home tournament style. While there’s no denying that supporting your home nation at an international tournament is one of the most unifying experiences you ever have as a football fan (it’s nice for the group chat to be on the same page every now and then), one of the more underappreciated aspects of a European Championship is the ability to explore and fall in love with football teams, players and cultures beyond your own borders.
It’s true that at an elite level, professional football is arguably the most visible and successful form of multiculturalism in the UK – but no matter how many imported players or coaches come to work in the Premier League or Women’s Super League, the environment and culture still feels inherently British. Every new kit is inspired by a similar era of football heritage, every stadium serves the same rotating cast of pies, burgers and hot dogs, and every crowd sings songs to the same beat.
“On occasion, you fall in love with a team that provides you with a sense of belonging. A home away from home.”
International tournaments always provide a break from the norm and a chance to experience a flavour of the game that’s typically outside of our reach. And, on occasion, you fall in love with a team that provides you with a sense of belonging. A home away from home.
There is no way of definitively expressing what makes you feel “home away from home”, but football cultures are so different there’s always something for everyone depending on what appeals to you as an individual. This summer’s Women’s Euros tournament is no different.
Immerse yourself in a sea of Oranje walking – or rather dancing – their way to the stadium to watch the Netherlands play. Maybe yellow is more your colour, and you join a Sweden team who bring vibes wherever they travel with trademark tournament playlists. Maybe parties and music aren’t your thing, but joining the Germans for a beer and bratwurst is well within your taste. Don’t forget about Iceland, whose ‘viking claps’ have become so iconic every club team in the game has tried to mimic it at some stage – but there’s no substitute for the real thing.
Norway just dropped the first statement performance of Euro 2022. Pulled Northern Ireland apart in a 4-1 win and reminded everyone just how much damage their key three are capable of. Real triple threat hours when Hegerberg, Hansen and Reiten lace up. This squad has pedigree. pic.twitter.com/ws1eNvvtZ8
— VERSUS (@vsrsus) July 7, 2022
And if you’re more interested in action on the pitch, you can still find your calling based on individual ballers and styles of play. Those who fancy themselves as master tacticians because of a few successful seasons on Football Manager could take real pleasure from Spain’s rendition of tiki-taka. If you’re strictly in the business of watching GOATs, Norway’s splurge of talent spearheaded by the 6 x UWCL champ Ada Hegerberg will need to be seen to be believed. Perhaps you’re someone who appreciates those who have that dawg in them, so longer shots like Belgium or Northern Ireland are a team you can put yourself in the trenches with.
This is a historic tournament for football, but don’t be lost on its importance in the here and now. 12 of the world’s top 20 ranked teams are playing on your doorstep. From Caroline Graham Hansen to Kosovare Asllani, and Viv Miedema to Marie-Antoinette Katoto, the world’s biggest stars are taking to the stage. The Lionesses are making waves in 2022, but don’t sleep on the rest of the field. This is a once in a lifetime Euros, so find your home away from home.
Tickets are on sale now for fans to experience a record-breaking tournament. Visit uefa.com/womenseuro/ticketing.