For England fans, this year’s summer of sport climaxed in winter, as 32 teams descended on Australia and New Zealand to contest the biggest Women’s football World Cup in the competition’s history. From on-pitch action to off-pitch support controversy, here’s how news brands followed the Lionesses’ pursuit of world glory
Getting to know the teams
With Australia and New Zealand putting on the biggest women’s World Cup ever hosted, the 2023 tournament was an opportunity for top global footballing talent to make a name for themselves on an ever growing world stage — including our Lionesses.
Last month’s The Guardian’s ‘Football Weekly’ podcast dedicated itself to an in-depth look at the tournament as the opening ceremony loomed nearer, with Faye Carruthers and Suzy Wrack joining Barry Glendenning and Max Rushden for all the pre-match insight.
The Guardian also offered readers with a guide to all 736 players of the tournament, providing players full profiles and ratings.
Meanwhile, Times Sport took an alternative look at the England squad by finding out what some of their former teammates had to say about them. From memories of cheeky youngsters and home-grown talent to their development as world-class athletes, their friends showed plenty of pride ahead of kick-off.
The nation gets behind the Lionesses
Back home, the country prepared to support England all the way to the final — including British musical royalty such as Sporty Spice herself, Melanie C. The Express shared how stars had teamed up to create a track getting behind the England team as they prepared to take the pitch in their first match against Haiti.
Meanwhile, Metro looked back at the original Lionesses that paved the way for England’s stars of today. The players of 1972 spoke to the news brand about having to deal with a recently overturned ban on FA-sanctioned women’s football, little organisational or financial support and discrimination from fans. They also talked about their experience of a certain England manager playing in the Netherlands back in the day…
Off-pitch talking points
As with the men’s World Cup in Qatar last year, this year’s women’s tournament provided plenty of talking points both on- and off-pitch.
The Guardian’s Suzy Wrack spoke on Instagram about problems facing teams including Jamaica, South Africa and England’s Lionesses that had qualified but were still being given insufficient support and unfair pay and bonus schemes compared to their male counterparts.
The Telegraph shared the moment many members of the US team refused to sing the national anthem before its group tie against the Netherlands. Those remaining silent did so out of protest against police brutality back home.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail’s Twitter feed highlighted allegations into Nike’s withholding of payments to low-paid workers in Cambodia while it is a high-profile promoter of the women’s World Cup. Activist groups called on Nike to make the payments before the final on 20 August.
Down to business
But of course, the hotly anticipated on-pitch action stole the show as millions tuned in to watch their team fight for World Cup glory. For England, it was an unexpectedly tame start to the team’s campaign, as the Lionesses took a narrow 1-0 win over underdogs Haiti courtesy of a penalty.
England took a maximum of nine points out of nine on its way to finishing top of its group, putting six goals past China in its final group match.
The Guardian rounded up the rest of the group stage action across the tournament on Instagram, with celebrations from Spain and Jamaica and commiserations for teams such as Ireland and tournament heavyweights Germany.
For England, a thunderous display against China was followed by a nervous round of 16 match against Nigeria, with the African side often the better side. A goalless draw brought the match to penalties, with England’s Chloe Kelly hitting home the winning spot kick — at a force higher than any Premier League goal scored all season.
That red card moment
Chelsea and England’s stand out talent Lauren James had set the tournament on fire in the group stages, scoring brilliant goals in her team’s games against Denmark and China.
However, like rising stars David Beckham and Wayne Rooney before her, her World Cup will mostly be associated with her sending off against Nigeria. James stood on the back of Nigerian defender Michelle Alozie as she went to get back up after a tackle. The move was deemed avoidable and her yellow card was upgraded to a red after the referee reviewed the VAR footage.
James, given a two-match ban by FIFA, apologised for the move, telling Alozie that she loved and respected her and was sorry for what had happened.
A team of “mystic meerkats” predicted the winner of England’s World Cup semi-final against Australia, the Independent shares to Instagram.
The animals, who belong to Drusillas Park in Sussex, backed the Lionesses, swarming a bucket of food with the England flag on. The “mystic” animals predicted the last two England matches correctly.
Lionesses make history
England’s Lionesses make history by becoming the first national team since 1966 to reach the World Cup final. They faced Spain in the final on Sunday after beating Australia 3-1.
The Lionesses faced a daunting challenge in front of a loud supportive home crowd, with the Matildas the only team to have beaten England’s manager Sarina Wiegman’s side in the previous two years and 37 matches.
The Guardian’s Women’s Football Weekly podcast in a tournament round up, shared the inspiring words to listeners from defender Lucy Bronze. The defender said: “We all dreamed of being in the final.
“After two times of such disappointment, I can’t believe it” praising her teammates, calling them ‘determined and resilient’. The Independent shared the emotional video to Twitter.
Meanwhile, Alessia Russo who scored seven goals in two major tournaments showing major composure said “We’ve been dreaming of this, since we were little girls.”
The Lionesses took on Spain in the World Cup final on Sunday.
It was the first time the England men’s or women’s team have reached a football World Cup final since 1966 and the nation came to a halt for the historic occasion.
Check out how brands participated in supporting the Lionesses through advertising.
Lionesses make history
England fans took to a Sydney beach to show their support by chanting for the Lionesses who were set to chase their first world title in Sydney, against Spain. Fans dressed in English jersey’s, scarves and draped in flags as they prepared to attend the sold-out game with almost two million fans attending – up by more than 600,000 on the previous record. Fans tried to predict the final result, The Sun shared a video on Youtube ahead of the hotly anticipated game.
The Lionesses were among the pre-tournament favourites however injuries to team favourites, from Leah Williamson to Beth Mead left England’s football manager Sarina Wiegman without four key players who had started every match prior to the World Cup team announcement.
After more than four weeks of action in Australia, England’s World Cup dreams came to an end as they lost 1-0 to Spain.
“We won’t stop – England will continue to break barriers” England’s midfielder Georgia Stanway vowed the Lionesses would carry on fighting for the top spot after finishing runners-up.
Goalkeeper Mary Earp’s was awarded the ‘Golden Glove’ after saving Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso’s penalty and was a standout performer for the Lionesses all tournament.
The Mirror shares a video to Twitter of England’s nervous fans as they watch England miss out on being crowned champions after a tense final.
Viewing figures from the match between England and Spain revealed that 12 million people watched the final on BBC 1.
According to the Daily Mail, Spain’s 1-0 win has only been trumped by one other event this year – the Coronation of King Charles III in May.
The Independent share, England captain Millie Bright’s after game thoughts: “The mentality has always been there. The character has been there, too. We show that, day in, day out, and in every game. We’ve just played in a World Cup final, it’s hard to see it like that at the moment. I’m proud of the girls.
“We’ve played on the highest stage. We’ve had a shot at competing for the trophy we have always wanted but this isn’t the end of the journey, and we will definitely bounce back. For now, though, we’ll let it settle.”
The Sun congratulated Spain and showed support for the Lionesses on Instagram.
Spain became the fifth nation to lift the Women’s World Cup following in the footsteps of USA, Germany, Norway and Japan.
We hope you enjoyed this deep dive read into news brand coverage of our amazing Lionesses, who we are sure will roar to World Cup victory next time.