Still craving Euro 2012? Get ready for Euro 2013
As Spainâs victorious Euro 2012Â male sideÂ returned to Madrid with the Henri Delaunay trophy, football administrators in Sweden were already working to make Euro 2013 for women a similar success.
âEuro 2013 is the second-biggest event UEFA are planning next year, after the Champions League final for men,â former Sweden international Viktoria Svensson told Reuters in an interview.
Having hung up her boots in 2009, former forward Svensson is now responsible for public relations and team service at the upcoming championship, which will kick off in Sweden on July 10 next year.
With Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine having been followed by millions of fans in stadiums and on television, Svensson is aware of the challenges faced by the womenâs game.
âThat Sweden can organise a tournament, thatâs no problem. Our biggest challenge is to fill the stadiums. UEFA set pretty high goals – they compare with the Womenâs World Cup in Germany, and that is pretty tough,” she said.
âGerman people are great at going to sporting events, if itâs biathlon or cross-country skiing or football, itâs packed all the time.â
Svensson says that the event will be aimed primarily at families and that it will retain much of what made the menâs event so successful.
âThe tickets wonât be hugely expensive, but they wonât be free either. Itâs very much aimed at families. The tickets must have a value – we canât just give them away because then itâs easier to say: âOh, the weatherâs good or Iâve been invited to a party, so I wonât bother going to the gameâ.â
Svensson and her Swedish colleagues dream of breaking the attendance record for a womenâs Euro final by selling out the newly-built Friends Arena in Stockholm on July 28.
âWe want to break the record for the final, which is 29,000 or so. In our new stadium we can hold 50,000 and we can always block off parts of it, but thereâs a dream that if Sweden play the final we could open up everything. Thatâs our big challenge.â
As with Poland and Ukraine, fan zones will be set up in each host city, where football lovers can watch the games live on giant screens.
âThey will be there during the whole tournament,” Svensson added.
Â As a player, Svensson was capped 166 times for her country, scoring 68 goals andÂ taking part in 10 major international championships. Unsurprisingly, she has little time for those who denigrate the womenâs game.
âYou always hear that the goalkeepers arenât as good, or that we should have smaller goals, smaller pitches, smaller balls. But if you look at the football, the girls are just as good technically and tactically (as men),” she said.
âObviously thereâs a difference in physique and speed, and thatâs not all that strange, weâre built differently. But I find that when male friends come to a womenâs game for the first time, they think itâs fantastic, great football and fun to be there.
âAnd what we donât have is hooligans, which is an advantage. You can go with your children and no-one is shouting swear words. It should be a family party.â
Svensson tips Sweden, Germany and England as the three to watch next summer.
âLotta Schelin (of Sweden) is one of the worldâs best forwards, she is in good form and sheâs going to mean everything to Sweden,” she said.
âBut Germany are very strong, the collective is excellent, and England have a lot of good players.â
With none of those three nations making it to the final of Euro 2012, perhaps their fans will have a little more to cheer about in Sweden next July.