Lionesses lose cup but win hearts

King Charles III, Rishi Sunak and a host of other politicians, royals and celebrities were quick to praise the England players despite a 1-0 loss in the Women’s World Cup title match…reports Asian Lite News

The wait for a World Cup title goes on for England, but the Lionesses were still heralded as game changers back home after their loss to Spain in Sunday’s final in Sydney.

King Charles III, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and a host of other politicians, royals and celebrities were quick to praise the England players on social media despite a 1-0 loss in the Women’s World Cup title match.

“Although it’s the result none of us wanted, Lionesses you have done yourselves and this nation proud,” Prince William, who is the president of England’s Football Association, posted on social media. “Your spirit and drive have inspired so many people and paved the way for generations to come.”

After winning the European Championship at home last year, England reached the championship match in the women’s global tournament for the first time. It was also the first time an England team had reached a World Cup final since the men’s team won in 1966.

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“You left absolutely nothing out there @Lionesses,” Sunak posted on social media. “It wasn’t to be, but you’ve already secured your legacy as game changers. We are all incredibly proud of you.”

The European title helped grow the popularity of the women’s game in England to unprecedented levels, and thousands of fans — men and women of all ages — gathered at venues around the country to watch the World Cup final at Stadium Australia. Some of the supporters watching the game on a big screen at a venue outside Wembley Stadium were crying after final whistle, but said the Lionesses’ performances will only make them more popular.

“They’ve taken the game forward in this country more than anyone could ever believe,” 67-year-old Sue Whyatt said. “This should take women’s football throughout the world on to another level altogether.”

Loren Mitchell, a 20-year-old soccer player and fan, said watching the England team had been “very inspirational.” “I want to be up there some day,” she said.

Still, there were some reminders that the women’s game has to continue fighting for equality.

Prince William and Sunak were both criticized for not traveling to Australia for the final, opting to stay at home instead. William’s decision was especially noteworthy as the head of the FA, the governing body of English soccer. Queen Letizia of Spain made the trip to attend the final along with her younger daughter Infanta Sofia.

“I would have personally liked him (William) to go there for the girls,” Kelly Dodd, a 39-year-old fan who watched the game with her family at a screening at the Olympic Park in east London, told Britain’s PA news agency. “If it was the men they probably would have made the effort to go.”

Spain won its first Women’s World Cup title less than a year after a player rebellion, holding off England 1-0 on Sunday after Olga Carmona’s first-half goal. (August 20)

England’s kit supplier Nike was also widely slammed for not putting a replica of Mary Earps’ goalkeeping jersey up for sale alongside those of the outfield players. Earps saved a penalty during the final and was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament, becoming one of England’s most popular players in the process.

Charles had urged the Lionesses to “roar to victory” in a social media post before the game, and offered his commiserations after the loss.

“While I know how sore it must be, let none of you feel defeated, for to have reached the final at all is an immense tribute to your skill, determination and team spirit in the finest sporting tradition,” the British monarch wrote. “More than that, though, it will serve as an inspiration for generations to come – and, for that, your place in the history books is assured.”

Sunak prompts backlash with tweet

Meanwhile, Sunak prompted a backlash on social media after tweeting a message of support to the England squad after their heartache in the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday.

Sunak had already been criticised for refusing to fly to Australia to cheer on Sarina Wiegman’s team in person as he decided to send Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer instead. And he put himself in the firing line once again after Sunday’s showdown had come to an end.

“You left absolutely nothing out there @Lionesses,” he wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “It wasn’t to be, but you’ve already secured your legacy as game changers. We are all incredibly proud of you.” And his post ended with three lion emojis. But England fans were having none of it from the Prime Minster as the backlash came thick and fast.

“I’m sure they are delighted with your ‘support’, your staged pics, and media team posts on this account,” replied Keith Hathaway. “Support like that, they can do without!” LFC Kev then penned: “They could’ve really done with your support but you sat at home.” And Peter West added: “Jog on lightweight. Couldn’t be bothered to turn up. If you’d had one of your holiday homes handy would that have made it easier?”

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