The overall attendance record for the Women’s European Championship has been broken by the 2022 edition – and there’s still 15 games to go.
The 8,173 people who attended France’s 2-1 victory over Belgium at the New York Stadium in Rotherham on Thursday took the overall attendance for the Women’s Euro 2022 to 248,075.
That surpasses the previous record of 240,055 set at the 2017 finals in the Netherlands – and we’re still only in the group stages.
Across the first 16 games of Euro 2022, the average attendance has been 15,505.
The tournament began at a record-setting pace, beating the single-game attendance record for the competition in the very first game: 68,871 fans watched host England beat Austria in the opener at Old Trafford in Manchester.
The previous biggest crowd was 41,301 when Germany beat Norway in the final of Euro 2013 in Sweden.
It also surpassed the record for a group game at a Women’s European Championship group game as the previous record was 29,092 in England’s 3-2 victory over Finland at the City of Manchester Stadium in 2005.
READ: Matches at a 4,700-seat stadium – are UEFA and the FA underselling women’s football?
And despite the record only just being broken, it is likely to be surpassed again at this tournament alone, with the final at Wembley Stadium – which has a capacity of 90,000 – on July 31.
The record for the highest attendance for a game not involving the host, other than a final, has been broke twice already in the last few weeks.
First, 16,819 watched Spain beat Finland in Milton Keynes. And then, the next day, 21,342 watched the Netherlands draw with Sweden in Sheffield.
The record-breaking moment came as fans crammed in to watch France edge past Belgium and into the knockout stage of the tournament.
An early goal from Kadidiatou Diani got France on the board, as the Paris Saint-Germain star powered a back-post header home from a Sakina Karchaoui cross.
But, against the run of play and against a barrage of French pressure, Belgium somehow found an equalizer.
Following some slick play up the left side of the field, Tessa Wullaert’s perfectly placed through-ball was in position for Janice Cayman to squeeze the ball past the on-rushing goalkeeper to restore parity to the surprise of many.
That didn’t last long though as Griedge Mbock Bathy once again had France in front, again heading home just over five minutes later.
Despite constant pressure in the second half, France could not convert any of its chances and, in the final few moments, was awarded a penalty after a video assistant review adjudged that Belgium defender Amber Tysiak had handled the ball. She was shown a second yellow card and sent off as a result.
Although captain Wendie Renard’s spot kick was saved, following a dominant 5-1 victory in its opening game against Italy, France is now through to the quarterfinals as the Group D winner with a game to spare.
Qualifying as group winner means France will face the runner-up in Group C, with Netherlands currently top, only ahead of second-placed Sweden on goal difference as the two sides are level on points.
“It’s a great satisfaction to have qualified after the second game,” Mbock Bathy said afterwards. “It was the objective to ensure qualification and that’s what we did tonight.
“I felt good (returning to the starting line-up). We have a group with a lot of qualities. We have players who can rotate, we have a group that can afford to rotate. That is also the strength of a group. The fact that I could play today is a great satisfaction and a great pride. To have been able to help the team is only happiness.”