Women’s Euro organisers defend venue choices after criticism over small stadiums

·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Organisers of this summer’s European Championship have defended the decision to host some matches at smaller stadiums after they were accused of being “disrespectful” to women’s football.

Iceland international Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir had criticised the fact that the Manchester City Academy Stadium, which seats just 4,700, will stage three group matches, referring to the venue – where City’s women play their WSL home games - as a “training ground”.

Ticket sales for the tournament have been strong, with Uefa confirming earlier this week that eight matches have already sold out, leading to suggestions organisers ought to have been more ambitious in choosing larger grounds.

The sold-out matches include the opener between England and Austria at Old Trafford and the final at Wembley, but also both of Iceland’s group games at the Manchester City Academy Stadium – the smallest at the tournament - leading Gunnarsdottir to brand the situation “just embarrassing” in an interview with the Their Pitch podcast.

A spokesperson for Euro 2022 said: "Manchester City Academy is not a training ground. It is the official home stadium of Manchester City Women’s Football Club.

"It has been used previously for UEFA Women’s Champions League fixtures and will generate a great atmosphere worthy of a Women’s Euro.

"Iceland’s two opening fixtures have sold out, alongside six other Euro 2022 fixtures, which highlights the huge level of interest in the tournament already.

"We believe that with two of the biggest football stadiums in England (Old Trafford and Wembley), four venues with a capacity of 30,000 or more, two venues over 10,000 and two stadiums under 10,000, the right mix of stadiums has been chosen to provide the tournament with a platform to fulfil its potential.

"We are confident that many matches will be sold out and are looking forward to more than doubling the total attendance of UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 in the Netherlands and delivering the best ever UEFA Women’s Euro."

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