UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Kicks Off!

UEFA Women's Euro 2017 The UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 is currently playing in the Netherlands, giving us the perfect excuse to move on from tennis after the excitement of Wimbledon and into some fresh football vocabulary! The Euros group stage began on 16th July and the final will take place on 16th August. Join us for a soccer-themed language and culture lesson as we explore the fascinating history of women’s football and dive into the latest footy action with the Euros 2017!

Hot on the heels of Wimbledon, we are in for another sporting treat as the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 kicks off. The tournament will see 16 teams battling it out to be crowned champions of Europe.

The first match played on Sunday 16th July to begin the group stage. The group stage is split into mini leagues with the top two finishing teams from each group going through to the knock-out stage. This consists of the quarter finals, semi finals and finally, the final!


The Group Stage

Here are the groups in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 tournament:

Group A: Netherlands (hosts), Norway, Denmark, Belgium
Group B: Germany (current holders), Sweden, Italy, Russia
Group C: France, Iceland, Austria, Switzerland
Group D: England, Scotland, Spain, Portugal

The group stage ended on 27th July and the knockout stage began on 29th July with the quarter-finals.

Germany won the last six Women’s Euros and their shock exit from the competition after their defeat by Denmark in the quarter finals has led to England now being the favourites after their win over France. Here at My English Language we have our fingers crossed for England to lift the trophy in August!

2017 is an exciting year for Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Scotland and Portugal as these countries all qualified for the first time for the Women’s Euros.

Despite a great effort and a skillful spectacle, Scotland are also unfortunately out of the competition. This was their first time at the Euros though, so they will only improve with experience and we are sure the Scots will come back stronger for the next international tournament.

The final is on 6 August and will play in the city of Enschede.

England women footballer - Jodie Taylor Steph Houghton

England’s Jodie Taylor celebrates with Ellen White and captain Steph Houghton after scoring against Scotland

The Women’s Euro 2017 Venues

The Women’s Euro 2017 games are being played in large cities and venues across the Netherlands. The locations for the matches during the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 tournament are:

Breda: Rat Verlegh Stadion
Deventer: Stadion De Adelaarshorst
Doetinchem: Stadion De Vijverberg
Enschede: FC Twente Stadion
Rotterdam: Sparta Stadion
Tilburg: Willem II Stadion
Utrecht: Stadion Galgenwaard

If you want to go to a match and support your nation or favourite team in thie fantastic spectacle of women’s football, you can buy tickets here: http://www.weuro2017.nl/en/ticket-service

You can also join in the discussion about the Women’s European Championship on Twitter at @UEFAWomensEURO. Use the hastag #WEURO2017 to join in the conversation.

Where to Watch?

You can watch the live Women’s Euro 2017 matches on Eurosport and on Channel 4 in the UK. The matches will also be streamed live online at UEFA.com and UEFA.tv.

Wherever you are in the world, you should be able to watch on TV or listen on the radio. Here is a list of where you can watch or listen to the Euros in your country: http://www.uefa.com/womenseuro/season=2017/finals/tv/index.html

UEFA Campaigns

‘Together #WePlayStrong’ Campaign

Women’s football has grown massively over the last few years. Football is the fastest growing women’s sport and it is also a popular spectator sport with 81 million fans tuning into the Euros this summer.

UEFA has launched a campaign called ‘Together #WePlayStrong’, which focuses on the three important aspects of football: skill, togetherness and positive attitude. It is hoped this campaign will help raise the profile of women’s football further as UEFA aims to make football the most popular women’s participation sport across Europe within the next five years.

Healthy Hearts Campaign

UEFA is collaborating with the World Heart Federation and Hartstichting in the Netherlands to promote ‘healthy hearts’ throughout the tournament. This is to increase general awareness of the importance of heart health and encourage everyone to be active through sport and exercise.

UEFA #WePlayStrongThe Early History of Women’s Football

The history of women’s football is fascinating. In the early 20th century, women’s football was hugely popular in England and women’s games often drew bigger crowds than men’s. When the men went to fight in the First World War, the men’s national football league was suspended – and the women’s game took its place.

These were the glory days for women’s football. In 1920, the women’s game was at the height of its popularity. 53,000 fans watched the women’s unofficial England team beat St Helens Ladies 4-0 at Everton’s Goodison Park, with thousands more spectators waiting outside.

Lily Parr - Dick Kerr Ladies FC - womens football

Lily Parr, star striker for Dick Kerr Ladies FC, who regularly scored 40 goals per season

When the FA Banned Women’s Football

However, that all changed when the FA decided to ban women’s football in 1921. This was just as the game was soaring in popularity and despite women playing at the FA grounds for many years previously.

The ban mean that the women’s game was immediately restricted to amateur status, received no money from the FA and no structural support. Women’s teams couldn’t use FA pitches or coaches or other resources.

The FA’s official reason for the ban was that they suddenly thought football was ‘unladylike’ and ‘bad’ for women’s health, especially their ovaries (!)


The real reason was simply deep-rooted misogyny. The FA did not want the women’s game to be as popular as – or more popular than – the men’s game, so they suppressed it. They were also worried about the potential for revolution. Working-class women were becoming popular as public figures and could get a powerful voice, so they had to be stopped.

However absurd and bizarre the FA’s official explanation, their new ruling meant that women had no suitable place to play football and no structural support, so the game went into decline.

Meanwhile, money was pumped into the men’s game and it flourished into the billion-pound industry we know today.

Girls playing football 1970s

Prejudice Against Women in Sport

The FA’s ban in 1921 also created the idea in the public’s mind that football was somehow ‘unsuitable’ for women, creating the catalyst for generations of prejudice against women in sport.

The official ban on women’s football at FA grounds existed for 50 years and women were discouraged from playing football in the UK for all this time.

The ban was only lifted in the 1970s and by then, the discouragement and lack of opportunity to play had affected two generations of women.

It took a long time for old attitudes to change. Even in the 1980s and 1990s, football was rarely offered to girls as a sports option at schools in England. Without women’s football on television, any visible role models or encouragement, many girls never had the opportunity to try the sport.

TV presenter Clare Balding presented a program called ‘When Football Banned Women’ (Channel 4), which explored the infamous FA ban and its terrible repercussions on the women’s game.

Dick, Kerr's Ladies FC - womens football 1920s

Dick, Kerr’s Ladies FC was one of the first women’s teams and regularly played in front of tens of thousands of spectators

Women’s Football in the USA and Europe

Interestingly, in the USA where no official ban ever took place, football (or soccer as Americans call it) has never had this restrictive ‘men-only’ reputation. The most popular sports for men when soccer arrived in the US were American football and baseball.

As football (soccer) only arrived in the USA in relatively recent history, it has none of the stifling attitudes that many women and girls have experienced in the UK. America led the way for women’s football with many top female players from Europe moving across the pond to join US teams.

(Idiom: ‘across the pond’ – the pond is the Atlantic Ocean and in the UK going ‘across the pond’ means going to America)

In England, the Women’s Super League (WSL) is now flourishing with Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea particularly successful.

Across Europe, women’s football has grown enormously in just the last 5 years with more investment from top clubs leading to great improvements and new opportunities. In France, the Paris Saint Germain and Lyon women’s teams play at huge venues and with an €8 million budget, Lyon are the best-funded women’s football team in Europe.

Barcelona Paris Saint Germain - womens football

Barcelona’s Marta Torrejon jumps the tackle of Shirley Cruz of Paris Saint-Germain in the Women’s Euros 2016

The Rebirth of Women’s Football

As interest and competition grows, the top clubs of Europe are now starting to put more money and resources into their women’s teams.

Although Germany and Scandinavia have always boasted the top women’s leagues, the WSL (Women’s Super League) in England is attracting lots of new talent and the leagues of France, Spain and Italy are also increasing in power.

Although it will take many years to catch up with the finances of the long-standing men’s game, the top female footballers can now earn large amounts of money. As the support, coverage and popularity of women ‘s football rises, the players’ salaries will rise along with it. This means young girls thinking about their future today can see that professional football is a career option for them.

The Women’s World Cup in 2015 attracted many new fans and a whole new generation of girls has been inspired to start playing! The Women’s Euro 2017 tournament is certain to continue the interest in women’s football.

Manchester City Women WSL

Manchester City celebrate winning the FA Women’s Super League trophy

Women’s Euro 2017 in the Classroom

The Women’s Euro 2017 tournament is an ideal time to bring some football vocabulary into your EFL class. There is a lot of soccer vocabulary you can use for a conversation class, vocabulary lesson or comprehension exercise. We have covered many football phrases and words in our FA Cup football lesson and general football vocabulary page.

For an advanced class, you could also discuss why women’s football has not always been popular in the past, why it has become more popular in recent years and where you think women’s football is headed in the future.

For example, it is interesting to discuss the FA’s ban of women’s football in 1921 and how this affected people’s attitude to the women’s game. It is also worth discussing the different attitudes in America and asking students how the attitude to women’s football differs in their country.

Teachers could show the class some action from the tournament and get students to commentate on the play.

This article is ideal for a conversation class for advanced students. A gap-fill exercise can help students practise grammar and new vocabulary. The article is also ideal for learning new vocabulary and as a cultural lesson for those interested in the history of sport.


Questions to ask in a conversation lesson:

  • Who do you think will win Women’s Euro 2017?
  • Why has women’s football not always been popular in the past?
  • Why has it has started to become more popular in recent years?
  • Where do you think women’s football is headed in the future?
  • What do you think is the real reason the FA banned women’s football?
  • How do you think the FA’s ban affected girls’ and women’s attitudes to the sport in the UK? And boys’ and men’s attitudes?
  • How would you feel about being banned from playing a sport?
  • Why do you think some people want to stop others people from playing a sport? (Control? Fear? Bullying?)
  • How can sporting popularity bring power? And revolution?
  • Why has America had less of a problem with prejudice in football?
  • Which team do you think will win the Women’s Euro 2017 tournament? Why?
  • What position do/would you play on the football pitch? (Goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, forward/striker). Why do you choose that position? Explore positions in our soccer vocabulary page.
  • How do you think the UEFA’s campaign ‘Together #WePlayStrong’ will boost interest?
  • What does it mean to be a good footballer?
  • What makes a good team?

UEFA Together #WePlay StrongGap Fill Exercise

The UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 takes place in …(1)… The tournament starts with the …(2)… stage and then the top …(3)… teams go through to the …(4)… stage. The …(5)… will play on 16th August in Enschede.

The ‘Together #WePlayStrong’ …(6)… promotes the 3 important values of football: skill, togetherness and …(7)… attitude. This campaign has been launched to raise the …(8).. of women’s football.

The Healthy Hearts campaign will also raise awareness of heart ….(9)…. and the …(10)… of sport and exercise for keeping a healthy heart.

In 1921 the FA …(11)…. women from playing football at their grounds. At this time, women’s football was highly …(12)… but the ban meant that women’s …(13)… were now restricted to amateur status, received no …(14)… from the FA and no structural …. Because of the ban, the women’s game …(15)… into decline.

The FA’s ban …(16)…. for ….(17)….years. Because of the ban and general societal prejudice, women were discouraged …(18)… playing the sport and even until the 1990s many women and girls never had the …(19)…. or the ….(20)…. to play. However in recent years, women’s football has become much more ….(21)…. again.

The USA never had the same type of prejudice in football (or ….(22)…. as the Americans call it) because for them the game is only a modern invention. Historically, Americans have played ….(23)…. and American football, so soccer is relatively ….(24)…

Although Germany and Scandinavia have led the way in women’s football in Europe and have had the … (25)…. women’s leagues, the Women’s Super League in England is fast becoming highly respected and boasts many top teams and players. Clubs in Spain and France are also now …(26)… much more in their women’s …(27)…. There are now many ….(28)…. female footballers, so girls at school can see that professional football is a ….(29)…. option for them.

….(30)…. in the women’s game continues to rise and thanks to the ….(31)…. of the World Cup in 2015 and now the Euros in 2017 a new ….(32)…. of girls has been inspired to start playing.

(1) The Netherlands

(2) group stage

(3) two

(4) knockout

(5) final

(6) campaign

(7) positive

(8) profile

(9) health

(10) importance

(11) banned

(12) popular

(13) teams

(14) money / funding

(15) went / fell

(16) lasted

(17) fifty

(18) from

(19) opportunity

(20) encouragement

(21) popular

(22) soccer

(23) baseball

(24) new

(25) best

(26) investing

(27) teams

(28) professional

(29) career

(30) interest

(31) success

(32) generation

England women fooballers

UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Fixtures

Here is the full fixture schedule for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 tournament, so you can plan your viewing. We will be updating the schedule as the tournament progresses!

Group stage (CET)

Sunday 16 July:

Group A

Netherlands 1-0 Norway (Utrecht)

Denmark 1-0 Belgium (Doetinchem)

Monday 17 July:

Group B

Italy 1-2 Russia (Rotterdam)

Germany 0-0 Sweden (Breda)


Tuesday 18 July:

Group C

Austria 1-0 Switzerland (Deventer)

France 1-0 Iceland (Tilburg)

Wednesday 19 July:

Group D

Spain 2-0 Portugal (Doetinchem)

England 6-0 Scotland (Utrecht)

Thursday 20 July:

Group A

Norway 0-2 Belgium (Breda)

Netherlands 1-0 Denmark (Rotterdam)

Friday 21 July:

Group B

Sweden 2-0 Russia (Deventer)

Germany 2-1 Italy (Tilburg)

England Karen Carney - Wmens football

England’s Karen Carney competes for the ball with Spain’s Alexia Putellas

Saturday 22 July:

Group C

Iceland 1-2 Switzerland (Doetinchem)

France 1-1 Austria (Utrecht)

Sunday 23 July:

Group D

Scotland 1-2 Portugal (Rotterdam)

England 2-0 Spain (Breda)

Monday 24 July:

Group A

Belgium 1-2 Netherlands (Tilburg)

Norway 0-1 Denmark (Deventer)

Tuesday 25 July:

Group B

Russia 0-2 Germany (Utrecht)

Sweden 2-3 Italy (Doetinchem)

Wednesday 26 July:

Group C

Switzerland 1-1 France (Breda)

Iceland 0-3 Austria (Rotterdam)

Thursday 27 July:

Group D

Portugal 1-2 England (Tilburg)

Scotland 1-0 Spain (Deventer)


Saturday 29 July

Netherlands 2-0 Sweden (QF1, Doetinchem)

Germany 1-2 Denmark (QF2, Rotterdam)

Sunday 30 July

Austria 0-0 Spain (5-3 pens) (QF3, Tilburg)

England 1-0 France (QF4, Deventer)


Thursday 3 August

Netherlands 3-0 England (Enschede)

Denmark 0-0 Austria (3-0 pens) (Breda)


Sunday 6 August

Netherlands 4-2 Denmark (Enschede)

Congratulations to the Netherlands on their first international tournament victory!

Germany Sara Dabritz - womens football

Germany’s Sara Dabritz shoots during the Women’s Olympic Gold Medal match between Sweden and Germany in 2016

How will you explore Women’s Euro 2017 in the classroom?

Explore more football vocabulary and use our football EFL lesson to explore more phrases. Plus, don’t forget to join in the soccer conversation on Twitter throughout the Euros with hashtag #WEURO2017 and watch online at UEFA.com and UEFA.tv.

Did you enjoy our gap-fill exercise?

Are you watching the Women’s Euro 2017 tournament? Who do you think will win? Which teams are you most looking forward to watching?

Do you have other ideas for an EFL class about Women’s Euro 2017?

Can you think of some more lesson ideas for a class about women’s football or sport in general?

How could you use the FA’s ban on women’s football as a springboard to discuss other injustices?

As we have discussed some quite complex topics here, do let us know if you have any questions about any of the expressions or vocabulary used in this article.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


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