Women’s Euro chiefs defend use of Man City Academy Stadium after criticism

UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 organisers have defended the choice of stadiums to be used for the tournament in England this summer amid criticism from a leading player.

Iceland captain Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir has complained about the decision to stage some games at smaller stadiums, referring to the 4,700-capacity Manchester City Academy Stadium as a “training ground”. She told the Their Pitch podcast that the decision to use such arenas is “disrespectful” and “just embarrassing”.

Iceland will play two group games at the Manchester City Academy Stadium, while huge venues such as Wembley and Old Trafford will also host games.

Euro 2022 organisers rejected Gunnarsdottir’s complaint, pointing out that the Manchester City arena is where the club’s Women’s Super League team plays its home matches. A spokesperson said it will “generate a great atmosphere worthy of a Women’s Euro”.

According to the Evening Standard, the spokesperson said: “We believe that with two of the biggest football stadiums in England (Old Trafford and Wembley), four venues with a capacity of 30,000 or more, two venues over 10,000 and two stadiums under 10,000, the right mix of stadiums has been chosen to provide the tournament with a platform to fulfil its potential.

“We are confident that many matches will be sold out and are looking forward to more than doubling the total attendance of UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 in the Netherlands and delivering the best ever UEFA Women’s Euro.”

Ten venues will stage Euro 2022 games, including Wembley, four Premier League grounds and three English Football League venues. The other two venues are Manchester City Academy Stadium and the 12,000-capacity Leigh Sports Village arena that is home to Manchester United Women and Leigh Centurions Rugby League team.

The tournament kicks off at Old Trafford on July 6, and will comprise of 31 matches. Hosts England will be joined by 15 other nations in a bid to lift the trophy at Wembley on July 31.

The nations are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

England has sold out its three group matches, with the final at Wembley also selling out its 87,200 ticket allocation.

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