Top international women’s football tournament could be coming to Sussex

Martin Perry, Cllr Alan Robins, Michelle Walder, Paul Barber and Ken Benham
Martin Perry, Cllr Alan Robins, Michelle Walder, Paul Barber and Ken Benham

Sussex could host part of the UEFA European Women’s Championship in 2021 – if an FA bid is successful.

Brighton and Hove City Council joined Brighton and Hove Albion and the Sussex County Football Association to support The Football Association’s (FA) bid to be a host city for the women’s football tournament.

The FA submitted its bid to the European Football Association (UEFA) today (August 29) to host the football tournament in the UK.

If successful, Brighton’s American Express Community Stadium in Falmer would be one of nine match venues.

Albion chief executive Paul Barber said: “We are absolutely delighted to be chosen by The FA as one of their nine host cities for the bid. Myself, the chairman and board of directors, remain committed to increasing the profile of women’s football

“We will work very closely with the Sussex County FA and Brighton and Hove City Council in supporting The FA to help bring such a prestigious tournament to this country.”

Support and interest in women’s football is growing – currently around 1.7 million women and girls play football every year and it is now the top participation sport for women and girls in England.

The tournament involves 16 teams playing 31 matches. The FA would work with host cities to support wider tourism initiatives as well as support participation programmes to encourage people to get involved with the event and the sport locally.

Albion’s women’s chair Michelle Walder said: “This is fantastic news, and it can only help to raise the profile of women’s football in the region, and inspire the next generation of young girls playing the sport.

“On behalf of everyone at the football club, I would like to wish The FA all the very best of luck with the bid.”

Sussex County FA chief executive Ken Benham added: “The opportunity to bring some of the best female players from across Europe to Sussex is one not be missed. We hope, if successful, that the tournament will inspire people to get involved in the ‘beautiful game’ and help us to grow and develop women’s and girls’ football across the county.”

A report will be presented to the council’s tourism, development and culture committee on September 27 to provide further information on the bid. If successful the council will be involved with partners in delivering the host city requirements, including event safety, transport and traffic management, promotion and dressing the city.

Cllr Alan Robins, chair of the city’s tourism committee, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the city to showcase women’s sport at the highest level and open up more opportunities for women and girls to play as well as involve people in the tournament. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a successful bid which would benefit the city in so many ways.”

Brighton and Hove hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2015, and in 2014 the city welcomed Stage 7 of the Tour of Britain bike race.

The council said the event would showcase the city to an international audience, supporting tourism and the local economy.

In 2017, when England reached the semi-finals, the UEFA women’s Euro viewing figures reached a global audience of 165 million.

A decision on the bid is expected in December.