The 2017 Women's Euros have been something special so far. The final will be no different.
For the first time in over two decades — and before the sport was even added to the Olympic roster — Germany, after the favorites made a surprise exit in the quarterfinals, will not win their seventh-straight WEURO.
Instead, it will be Denmark and hosts Holland who face off in the final this Sunday for the chance to become just the fourth WEURO winners (after Germany, Norway, and Sweden).
If this final matchup seem surprising, that’s because it is. Neither team has even been in a WEURO final before; the highest Denmark had previously finished was third (in 1991 and 1993), and for Holland the semifinals (2009).
And not just were Germany pre-tournament favorites because of their history in the tournament, they entered it ranked #2 in the world, only slightly behind the United States Women’s National Team. France, who narrowly fell to #5-ranked England in the semifinals, was ranked third and hadn’t lost a match in all of 2017 until faltering in the WEURO group stage. Put whatever stock you will in FIFA rankings, but something had gotten these clubs to the top.
Even Norway, last year’s runners up, didn’t make it out of the group stage.
And it’s not just the results that have been unprecedented: the viewership has skyrocketed since 2013 and the in-stadium attendance is also set to surpass the record set at the last tournament.
While 2013’s total audience was an impressive 116 million, this year’s is set to shatter that by over 50 million; by the time the semifinals rolled around, the audience was already up 31.7 million. And heading into the final, in-person attendance is just 5,025 people short of the 216,888 cumulative record attendance at the end of the 2013 tournament — so that is more than certain to be broken and more, as the final set to sell out. Every Netherlands match so far has, after all!
It is fantastic to see records continually broken and reset every tournament, and bode well for women’s soccer going forward. And it’s then not just for the sake of parity that it’s good to see some fresh faces be successful: it can help bring in and retain new audiences, as seen in record audiences being logged in Netherlands, Denmark and the UK, among others.
This is especially huge in the Netherlands, where the tournament, and the team’s success, has jump-started the country’s passion in the women’s game — especially at a time when the men’s team has been floundering. It has since the beginning, with an increase in coverage of the sport, and has only increased as the team has repeatedly proven to be serious contenders for a trophy for the first time in their history.
— Priya Ramesh (@Priya8Ramesh) July 10, 2017
— Kieran Theivam (@KiersTheivam) August 4, 2017
They have the advantage heading into this final, too; Denmark played an extra 30 minutes on top of penalties in their semifinal win over debutants Austria, and that’s not to overlook Holland’s home-field advantages that have carried through each of their matches. All of their games haven’t just been sellouts, they’ve been oranje sellouts by a large majority. They also comprehensively shut down an England team 3-0 who themselves, up until then, had looked fantastic, and had only conceded one goal.
All in all, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Netherlands be the first hosts to win the trophy at home since Germany in 2001. And the things a victory could do for the women’s game in Holland moving forward would make it just that bit sweeter.
Catch the final this Sunday, August 6, at 17:00 local time.