England and Chelsea goalkeeper Carly Telford has made a plea to the Football Association not to emulate France’s hosting of the World Cup when England stages the Women’s European Championship in 2021.
Fifa and the French Football Federation received criticism for their hosting of this summer’s competition, as there were few indications that a World Cup was taking place in several host cities.
Games not involving France were not shown on free-to-air French channels and Fifa also falsely claimed matches, including England’s opener against Scotland, were close to sold out, when those stadiums were less than half-full.
Now Telford wants the FA to “take a massive learning” from France’s shortcomings and has fed her concerns to the governing body. “Feedback from friends and families was that it [France] wasn’t well hosted,” Telford said. “A lot of the towns and cities weren’t as kitted out or as football friendly as they needed to be.
“We’re quite a small country and easy to get around. If we can host in the right cities at the right times and give people a real buzz, then I think we can host not only the best Euros in the history of it, but probably one of the best competitions that women’s football has ever had.
“A lot of what our friends and family were saying when they arrived – in terms of airports, hotels, walking around the cities – [was] there was no real guidance as to where the stadiums were, where the fan zones were. There wasn’t much in the fan zones. Considering how well Holland had hosted the Euros and Canada the World Cup, you were a little bit disappointed because you’d class Europe as one of the biggest football hosts. France hosted a World Cup not long ago. You think they’d have nailed it.
“I think friends and families tried not to put on us too much about how difficult it was to travel around. I know there were some strikes in Paris with trains. If your family’s ringing you at two in the morning saying they’re stuck somewhere, it can be a bit stressful.”
Telford also questioned the format in France, when England’s three group games took them from Nice to Le Havre, 697 miles away, then back to Nice. “If there was a way they could have kept groups south, east, north and west, would it have been easier to do it that way?” Telford said. “Then really create a buzz around what the groups felt like in those regions, rather than have people traipsing all over the country.
“It was kind of like a balloon that went up then deflated quite quickly after that. That’s no disrespect – you have to make a big buzz about it. I think ultimately it was left to the French people to do that for us, and it kind of let things down. If it wasn’t for the English, American and French fans, it would have been a pretty sad tournament.”