England’s women to open Euro 2021 at Old Trafford

LONDON (AP) — The 2021 Women’s European Championship will open at Old Trafford featuring host England, UEFA announced on Sunday with 500 days to go until the tournament.

If there is a sell-out of around 75,000 on July 7, 2021 at Manchester United’s stadium, the attendance would eclipse the previous Women’s Euros high of 41,301 for the 2013 final in Sweden.

It would also surpass the 57,900 in Lyon’s stadium last year to see the United States lift the Women’s World Cup.

“We want Old Trafford to be a massive advantage for our players to go out there with 75,000 England supporters,” England manager Phil Neville said. “Our program over the next 12 months is to expose our players to big occasions so when they come to Old Trafford, it’s just like a walk in the park. It’s another bit of expectation to handle the pressure.”

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The Aug. 1 final will be at the 90,000-capacity Wembley, the tournament’s only game at English football’s national stadium in north London.

There was a crowd of 77,768 there for England’s loss to Germany in a friendly in November. The use of Wembley for the Euro 2021 final means a new venue is being sought for the curtain-raiser to the English men’s season: The Community Shield between the winners of the Premier League and FA Cup.

“This is what women’s football deserves,” said Nadine Kessler, UEFA’s head of women’s football. “To play in such stadia is what you strive for — as a player, coach, referee and a fan. I am so happy for everyone who will have the opportunity to experience this.”

Women’s Super League games in England are typically played at smaller stadiums. Only one of the six midweek fixtures attracted a crowd above 1,000, with 1,928 seeing Chelsea beat Birmingham.

At Euro 2021, after opening in Manchester, England will play its other group-stage games on the south coast at Brighton and Southampton, which can both fit around 30,000 fans. The Lionesses reached the semifinals at Euro 2017 and the previous two World Cups.

The Euro 2021 semifinals will be staged at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes and Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane which both have capacities of around 30,000.

The stadiums for the quarterfinals are Brighton, Brentford in west London, Rotherham in northern England, and at the Leigh Sports Village home of Manchester United’s women’s team, which has yet to play at Old Trafford.

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