Stammtisch knowledge. The craziest facts and stories about the 16 EM participants.

The countdown is running. The women’s European Football Championship begins next week in England.

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Did you know that women’s football was forbidden in Switzerland until 1968? Or that Nati inflicted their heaviest defeat on the Italians to date? Curious stories and exciting facts about the 16 EM participants.

England ???????????????????????????? Football? Not for you

England is not only considered the motherland of football, but also the motherland of women’s football. England won their first international match against France in 1920. The following year, however, women’s football was banned on the island and the ban was only lifted in the late 1960s – not least thanks to the men’s World Cup triumph in 1966.

Austria ???????? Forgot the coin?

Seat selection with a difference: Instead of tossing a coin, a referee in the Austrian women’s Bundesliga in April 2021 had two Easter eggs knocked together.

Northern Ireland ???????? The blatant outsider

Northern Ireland is 47th in the world rankings and is by far the worst team in the European Championship. “Penultimate” is Portugal in 30th place. Sweden is in second place behind the USA and is therefore probably the biggest title favorite ahead of Germany, France and Holland. According to the world rankings, Switzerland (rank 20) ​​is the twelfth best team from Europe.

Norway ???????? “We are really bad”

Not “real” football, too slow, all just lesbians – women footballers have to defend themselves against the same prejudices over and over again. Norway’s internationals came up with something special ahead of the 2015 World Cup and, ironically, just agreed to it all. “We just can’t play football,” “I want to hold the ball all the time,” “the goal is just too big” – these are some of the statements made by the Norwegians in a video broadcast by NRK TV. At the World Cup, however, they reached the round of 16.

Denmark ???????? The huge difference

Pernille Harder became the most expensive female footballer of all time in 2020. Chelsea paid Wolfsburg the record transfer fee of 330,000 euros for the Danish attacker. Of course, this sum is nothing compared to the men – Neymar switched from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 for an incredible 222 million euros.

Finland ???????? An owl as a football fan

The Finnish women’s national team is called “Helmipöllöt” (the rough-legged owls). Why? In 2007, the men’s European Championship qualifier between Finland and Belgium had to be interrupted for six minutes because a huge owl first made himself comfortable on the green, then flew from one crossbar to the other and finally circled majestically across the pitch. The spectators enjoyed the spectacle and hooted the word “Huuhkaja” (eagle owl in Finnish) through the stadium. Since then, the Finnish national players have been called “Huuhkajat” (the owls). And the players of the women’s national team also owe their nickname to the legendary owl.

Germany ???????? Men’s solidarity

To draw attention to women’s football and the forthcoming European Championship, the German men’s national team wore the women’s European Championship jersey in a friendly against England at the beginning of June.

Leroy Sané recently wore the same jersey as compatriot Sydney Lohmann.


Spanien ???????? Ballon d’Or statt Sandburg

With Alexia Putellas, the Spaniards have the current world footballer in their ranks. She started playing football at the age of six, was by far the youngest on her team and had teammates up to eight years older than her. No wonder little Alexia spent a lot of time on the bench. But that didn’t bother her. Putellas occupied himself with emptying water bottles and sometimes built sand castles.

epa09611618 Barcelona player Alexia Putellas wins the Women's Ballon d'Or during the 2021 Ballon d'Or ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France, 29 November 2021. EPA/YOAN VALAT
She used to build sandcastles on the substitutes’ bench, today she’s the world’s soccer player: Alexia Putellas.


Netherlands ???????? Not interested in women’s football

Ellen Fokkema may not have played for the Netherlands women’s national team, but she is one of the country’s best-known footballers. Because in 2020 she became the first woman to play in a men’s team in Dutch amateur football. Although she has also had offers from clubs in the top women’s division, Fokkema prefers to play with the men. However, your application was only approved on the third attempt.

Sweden ???????? The legendary kiss

At the 2019 World Cup, a photo went around the world: It showed how the Swede Magdalena Eriksson kissed another woman in the Sweden jersey after winning the round of 16. It wasn’t a fan, it was Denmark international Pernille Harder. The photo became, so to speak, a symbol of diversity, openness and tolerance in women’s football. By the way, the couple now play together at Chelsea.

TOPSHOT - Sweden's defender Magdalena Eriksson (C) kisses her girlfriend Danish international Pernille Harder (R) as she celebrates her team's victory at the end of the France 2019 Women's World Cup third place final football match between England and Sweden, on July 6, 2019, at Nice stadium in Nice south-eastern France. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)
Magdalena Eriksson kisses her Danish friend Pernille Harder.


Switzerland????????One step towards equality

It was not until 1968 that the Swiss Football Association approved the first women’s football club. Before that, the sport was also banned for women in this country. For medical reasons, according to the official explanation: football is too raw and physically unacceptable for women. In 1970 the Swiss women’s football league was founded. To this day, very few Swiss footballers can make a living from football. A first step towards “Equal Pay” has now been taken: At the upcoming European Championships, the national players will receive the same bonuses as their male colleagues.

Portugal ???????? Sad happiness

Portugal had actually missed qualifying for the European Championship, in the playoffs they failed because of Russia. Because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent decision that Russia would be banned from participating in international FIFA and UEFA matches for the time being, Portugal could still be “happy” about the EM ticket at the beginning of May.

France ???????? An unforgettable own goal

Wendie Renard is the big star of the French team – and really big. At 1.87 meters, the central defender is the tallest player at the European Championship. Renard has won the Champions League eight times with Lyon, she has been French champion 14 times and she has won the French Cup nine times. The 31-year-old brings with her numerous successes and a lot of experience, but even Renard is not immune to bad mistakes. At the 2019 World Cup, she scored an unbelievable own goal against Norway: After a harmless cross, Renard pushed the ball from one meter into his own box without any pressure.

Belgium ???????? The hole in the goal net

The Belgian goalkeeper Justien Odeurs has also experienced a strange situation. In an international match against the Netherlands, Odeurs fell into the goal net after a clearing action, caught hold of the mesh and ripped a hole in the net. The keeper then personally helped patch the hole. So the game could be continued after a short break.

Iceland ???????? Caution, risk of confusion!

Did you know that in Iceland there are no surnames as we know them? The child’s surname is composed of the father’s first name and an appended “-(s)son” (son) or “-dottir” (daughter). Example: An Iceland player is called Alexandra Johannsdottir. So her father’s name is John. The Icelandic squad also includes two women whose surnames don’t end in -dottir: Sandra Jessen and Elin Jensen.

Italy ???????? A belated satisfaction

The Italians inflicted a sensitive defeat on the Swiss national team in April of this year and are at the top of the qualifying group for the 2023 World Cup – the Swiss are now threatened with going into the playoffs. For Italy, this game was also something of a revenge. Five years ago, the Swiss were responsible for the Italians’ heaviest defeat to date: In March 2017, the Nati won a friendly 6-0!