Megan Rapinoe has labelled those who were taken aback by the success of Euro 2022 as ‘late to the party’ following a record breaking summer of women’s football.
The tournament in England saw an assortment of records tumble over the course of the month, with the 87,192 supporters in attendance for the Wembley final setting a new European Championship attendance record.
A peak UK TV audience of 17.4m, plus another 5.9m BBC online streams, tuned in to watch the Lionesses beat Germany 2-1 in an enthralling final to lift their maiden piece of silverware – and Rapinoe insists the quality on the pitch and the popularity of the women’s game should stop coming as a surprise to people every time a major tournament comes around.
“My overarching feeling was like, everyone’s late to the party,” Rapinoe told The Guardian, when asked about her thoughts on Euro 2022. “This is not surprising to me at all. I feel like I’ve known that the level of play was going to be that [high].
“I knew that the European teams, especially in the last five years with the rise of the club game, have been sensational. Of course this was going to be how it was going to go.
“We literally grow gardens out of cement every single time. Tell me one women’s tournament in the last 15 years that hasn’t exceeded expectations. Part of it is like: ‘Welcome, everybody, to the party. You’re extremely f****** late, but fine.’ And I feel proud about that.”
Rapinoe has won successive World Cups and an Olympic Gold with the USWNT – and was full of praise for how the Lionesses rose to the occasion at Euro 2022.
“The way that the English players held themselves in this tournament, they just embraced the moment fully and didn’t fall into the narrative or didn’t allow themselves to be stressed out about it,” she added. “You could just tell they stepped into themselves.
“And it’s yet another data point, justification, reason, a clear picture of why investing in women’s football is good business, first and foremost. It’s a proper money-making opportunity.”