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UEFA hails 'best ever Women's EURO'

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino referred glowingly to Sweden 2013 as "the best ever Women's EURO that UEFA have organised" at a press conference on the eve of the final.

Karen Espelund, Karl-Erik Nilsson and Gianni Infantino address the media
Karen Espelund, Karl-Erik Nilsson and Gianni Infantino address the media ©Sportsfile

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino spoke enthusiastically about Sweden 2013 being "the best ever Women's EURO that UEFA have organised" at a press conference on the eve of the final, which tournament director Göran Havik predicted will be "a historic moment".

Addressing the media at the Friends Arena in Solna, where Sunday's showpiece will take place between Germany and Norway, the two men delivered glowing reports on the tournament along with UEFA Executive Committee member and chairwoman of the UEFA Women's Football Committee Karen Espelund, and the president of the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) Karl-Erik Nilsson.

"Many, many thanks to Karl-Erik, to the Swedish FA, to Göran, for all the great work which they have performed in making this EURO the best ever Women's EURO that UEFA have organised," said the UEFA General Secretary. "It's been a really great event and the climax is still to come."

All four participants highlighted the exceptional levels of interest that the tournament has provoked, with stadium crowds and television audiences setting new benchmarks. "We have had record-breaking attendance in stadiums, with over 200,000 people coming to matches," he added. "Four years ago, it was 129,000, so we can see a fantastic increase.

"We've had a very high media interest – approximately 1,000 media representatives were accredited. We've had record TV viewership numbers, with total live audiences after the semi-finals of over 55 million, and the final will have a global live television audience of over 10 million."

"We'll have had about 8,000 spectators per game," added Havik. "And we must remember that 20 out of 25 games will have been played without Swedish participation. But also, in the fan zones, we have so far had about 243,000 visitors. So, in total, we will be close to half a million people who will have watched the Women's EURO, and that's incredible.

"What we're most happy about is all the supporters who will come tomorrow," he went on. "They will be able to say: 'I was there when Sweden hosted the final in a European Championship at football.' To host the final of a European Championship – it will take some time before we can do that again. It will be a historic moment."

For Espelund as well, Sweden 2013 will go down as the finest edition of the competition so far. "It's been the best EURO ever, and I can say because I've been involved in all of them since 1987," she said, before highlighting the success of the fan zones.

"That's also been a breakthrough for a Women's EURO. It's the first time we've had fan zones and they've been packed – with all types of people, from small children to grandfathers and grandmothers. And I've seen a lot of boys in their 20s really happy to follow the Swedish team but also the tournament."

Given the overwhelming public response, the tournament looks set to leave a profound legacy. "We've realised now that this national team have taken a big place in the heart of the Swedish football spectators," said Nilsson. "And we've got a very good media response – a lot of articles, a lot of TV coverage, and that's fantastic. And a lots of spectators, and in some ways a lot of new spectators. That gives inspiration to the clubs that it's possible to attract spectators."

He also feels Sweden has demonstrated an ability to organise big sporting events. "We want more," he explained. "One of our strategic goals is to organise international tournaments. Tomorrow we will have a first meeting giving information to representatives of Swedish society and I am quite sure and hopeful that we'll be one of the countries and cities that wants to apply to be a part of EURO 2020. So, UEFA, thank you for the decision to give us the possibility and for the trust you have shown us."