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Raise the Bar: UEFA Women’s EURO Final Forum in London sets the standard for future success

Keynote speakers and panel discuss how to build on a record-breaking UEFA Women's EURO 2022 and guarantee an even brighter future for the game.

Raise the Bar: setting the standard for future success

Hundreds of guests attended a prestigious UEFA event in London on Sunday ahead of the Women's EURO 2022 final.

Senior figures from European and world football, former players, sponsors and women's football experts were guests at UEFA’s one-off event – Raise the Bar – to look to the future of the game in Europe and beyond, urging member associations to continue the progress already made and collectively take the game to the next level.

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin joined chief of women's football Nadine Kessler and a star-studded selection of speakers to reflect on the achievements of the past month and set the benchmark for continued success.

"It was and is still an amazing tournament," said President Čeferin. "We expected a lot but to be honest we didn’t expect so much, the numbers are amazing, but it's not only the numbers that are important. The matches are great and the technical skills have been unbelievable.

"It was a lot of hard work and quite an investment, and we had to believe in it. The most important thing is you believe in what you are doing and from the beginning we knew we could come to a much higher level."

Looking to the future, President Čeferin urged more people to back the game and help take it to the next level.

"The women's game has to continue its development the same way as the men's game," he said. "We have to develop it on a technical level and we have to invest. It's not a big difference. Maybe some people – sponsors, broadcasters and everyone else - should start thinking that it's worth investing in women's football."

Aleksander Čeferin
Aleksander Čeferin

He also praised the work of Kessler and the UEFA team in driving women's football forward and helping to stage such a successful Women's EURO 2022. As a winner of the trophy with Germany back in 2013, Kessler admitted life as a player is somewhat more straightforward.

"I must say, I felt playing is a bit easier than organising," she smiled. "It's been a blast. We are super happy, especially also because the football was fantastic, from the first to the last game, it has really amazed people.

"The biggest takeaway for the whole of Europe is that everyone is moving forward. The attitude, the approach to women's football, there is no convincing needed anymore."

Nadine Kessler
Nadine Kessler

Building on big wins

The event came before the culmination of what has already been a record-breaking UEFA Women's EURO.

The 30 matches prior to the final have smashed attendance and ticket sales records, with a full house expected at Wembley this evening, hundreds of thousands of supporters visiting dedicated fan parties in host cities across England and millions of fans watching on TV around the world.

Yet as the name suggests, this Raise the Bar forum was not just to celebrate what has already been achieved – it was to acknowledge what still needs to come in the development and evolution of women's football.

Women's EURO 2022: The story so far

A panel discussion featuring influential voices from the game offered a variety of views, talking points and areas where more progress is needed.

Baroness Sue Campbell, the English Football Association (FA) director of women's football, explained their approach to inspiring a generation of girls to play the game.

"The power of this game is enormous in terms of addressing some of the inequalities that have lasted many years in some societies," she explained. "Football changes attitudes to girls and women in society, not just in the game.

"The moral purpose of what we have tried to do here in England is just as important as the business purpose of winning teams. We think we can improve the lives of girls and women in society by the way we deliver football in the community and on the international stage."

Răzvan Burleanu, president of the Romanian Football Federation (FRF), offered insight from a nation where the game has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years.

"Nine years ago, 300 girls in Romania used to play football. Now we have over 60,000. Visibility is very important and what UEFA did strategically to develop women's football is exactly the pathway we have to follow in a country like Romania.

"Girls from Romania are really inspired by what is happening here during this month in England. This is the most important thing for all of us. It has been a really inspirational event."

Lise Klaveness, president of the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF), spoke passionately about the importance of more female representation in the game.

"It's very important to have principled and ethical leadership where your vision is full equality," she said. "You cannot have daughters and sons treated differently. In every decision, we should have that vision.

"I want to congratulate UEFA on amazing work in the last 10 years – but we should do more now – we should be pressured to have grassroots football for women and girls. The rest of us have to tag along. I am very focused on making it happen in my own country and supporting the other countries."

Influencers, innovators and visionaries

Four keynote speakers covering different themes of the game also spoke with host, sports broadcaster and journalist, Jacqui Oatley.

The visionary: Sonia Bompastor

Sonia Bompastor is the first woman to win the UEFA Women’s Champions League as both a player and coach, having led Olympique Lyonnais to the title in her first season in charge last year. That followed a playing career in which she lifted the trophy twice with OL and appeared more than 150 times for France. She is also a mother of four children, and explained how her club supports their players and staff.

"We have two players in the team with a baby. It’s hard for them, your body changes but the most important thing is to feel the support of the club.

"Today, in 2022, as a woman you don’t have to choose between personal and professional life. You just have to take your decision and expect the club to help you and make it as easy as possible. [Club president] Jean-Michel Aulas asked me what I need to do both, he supported us financially to have someone at home to take care of the kids. I told myself, I need to work hard to show him that it works and that it’s worth it."

Sonia Bompastor
Sonia Bompastor

The innovator: Kara Nortman

Kara Nortman is co-founder of Angel City FC, the first majority-women owned professional sports team in the USA. Managing partner at Upfront, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and high-performing teams. She is also a founding member of All Raise, dedicated to diversity in founders and funders.

"When we set out to build this club, we were trying to show what is possible in women's football. Everything is possible in my mind - it's about building the world we want to live in. Now our boys and girls can dream about being a professional athlete.

"People ask me all the time, why did I start Angel City? It's for three reasons. One: I wanted to show that the best women footballers in the world should be paid a living wage. Two, I wanted to show we could pack stadiums. Everyone said it was impossible. It's possible and it can be as entertaining as any sport in the world. Three: I wanted to show we could generate revenue and be as valuable as Liverpool or the Dallas Cowboys. I believe that it's true."

Kara Nortman
Kara Nortman

The influencer: Alex Scott

A veteran of 140 England caps, Alex Scott retired in 2017 having scored the winning goal in Arsenal's 2007 UEFA Women's Cup success against Sweden's Umeå. Since then, she has become one of the most recognisable faces on British television as a broadcaster and pundit, and has spoken out about online abuse. She spoke about creating opportunities for as many people as possible to enjoy the game.

"We look at the word 'diversity' – it's about opportunity for everyone. A girl from no matter what area or background being able to have an opportunity or a dream that she can be a broadcaster, a coach, play for a national team. It's just allowing everyone that’s there to dream. For me, that’s how it started. I had hope in my heart and a dream in my head that I'd play at Wembley one day. And now we're here.

"That's the change we're now going to see – there are pathways and tournaments for girls. You don’t just play because your older brother played. They'll play because they love the game and see it's a possibility for them now."

Alex Scott (R) chats to host Jacqui Oatley
Alex Scott (R) chats to host Jacqui Oatley

The inspirer: Tanya Joseph

A former journalist and civil servant, Tanya Joseph was the architect of the multi-award-winning This Girl Can campaign, which inspired 2.8 million women in the UK to get active and partake in regular exercise. She talked about connecting with women and ensuring they feel comfortable taking part in sport.

"A fear of judgment is nothing to be worried about. You're not alone. Women come in all shapes and sizes and levels of ability. It doesn’t matter if you're rubbish or an expert. The point is you're a woman and you're doing something."

Tanya Joseph
Tanya Joseph

As the curtain prepares to fall on UEFA Women's EURO 2022, a new dawn approaches for women's football in Europe. This fantastic tournament is just the beginning.

Each of the speeches and panel discussion will be available to stream in full on the official UEFA YouTube channel over the coming days.