56 years after England last lifted a major football trophy, Wembley stadium saw glory once again with the Women's squad winning the European championship. But, it wasn't just an electric final, the run-up to the tournament attracted an overwhelming level of support and newfound interest in the women's game from many fans across Europe.
At the forefront of the action, official sponsor Heineken brewed excitement and much-needed awareness of the tournament with its "12th Woman" campaign, cleverly flipping the famous term "12th Man." The campaign brought the coined phrase to the lips of famous celebrities in its dedicated ads and soon became the mantra of the season.
However, Heineken's commitment stretches far beyond the tournament. Back in May, it partnered with GOAL to bring clarity on the gender bias in the football sphere. On the Fresher Football website, football lovers can browse stats and answers to common questions about the UEFA Champions League. The brand also worked with a roster of football talent, sportswomen and other influential players to host a line-up of talks throughout the summer season, as it continued to elevate sporting education.
This year's tournament has consequently raised more questions about women's place in men's football and vice versa. Typically, more male commentators and presenters exist in women's football broadcasting while far fewer female pundits and personalities are selected for men's matches. It is important to note that more exposure (in both the game and across media) is key to confident participation in the sport for young girls. With increasing attention on the women's football scene, fans hope that a major shift in both mindsets and opportunities will bring about a change across the board for the sport.
Heineken has proven that it is up to brands to lift the potential of women's football to make it more equal for all. By investing more into footballers' development and bringing their stories to the public, they do more than just create a moment of adoration and respect but add to the lasting growth of women in sport.