Switzerland Women’s Euros 2025: Are We Actively Progressing?

Women’s football is being catapulted into wider exposure, greater demands, and higher levels of investment in a once male-dominated industry. With the back-end success of the Women’s Euros in 2022 and the wake of the Women’s World Cup in 2023, it was certainly never predicted to backpedal or shy away from its ever-progressing state. But with recent discussions and nullifying decisions from the Switzerland Federal Council to cut funding for what is expected to be an electrifying and extensively competitive women’s European Championship next summer, it begs a question of apparent regression.

In the summer of 2022, England captain, Leah Williamson, championed the Lionesses to their first major tournament trophy, and the first since the England men’s team lifted the World Cup trophy on the same home soil 56 years prior. The tournament broke the record for the total attendance figure set by the previous tournament held in the Netherlands in 2017, more than doubling the statistic to 574,875 people. In combination with 365 million people globally tuning in to watch the tournament in its entirety. The Euros Final itself set a new record for the highest crowd attendance for a final in a UEFA tournament, men’s or women’s, of 87,192 people.

The Women’s World Cup the following summer, co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia, transcended their own domestic outlook on women’s football. The opening game of the tournament of Australia v the Republic of Ireland set a new record home attendance of 75,784 people. The Lionesses made history when they reached their first-ever World Cup Final, despite ultimately falling short and losing 1-0 to the glorious, youth-studded Spanish team.

For decades, the USWNT paved the way for women’s football and proved female athletes could excel time and time again on a world stage, if given the opportunity. But now, football in Europe is leading by example and painting a different kind of opportunity for young girls and boys.

women's football, Women's Euros 2025, Switzerland, the Lionesses, England, Women's World Cup, infrastructure, funding
Artwork by Anita Sambol Baniček

On April 4, 2023, Switzerland was selected to host the 2025 Euros across eight different stadiums and cities. The bid made by the Switzerland Federal Government originally promised to invest 19.8m Swiss Franc (£17.4m) but later cut this drastically down to only 3.9m Swiss Franc (£3.5m). Aston Villa and Swiss forward Alisha Lehmann calls this cut in funding a “catastrophe” and has widely been criticised by others.

The last major tournament to be hosted in Switzerland was the Men’s 2008 Euros, co-hosted with Austria. They were allocated a staggering number of 82m Swiss Franc (£72m) in terms of investment, meaning the women’s tournament was only seeing an 18% of this investment, which has now been reduced to just 5%.

The gender pay gap in women’s football has been a focal talking point in recent years. With the most common example of bridging the gap being the USWNT filing a lawsuit in 2016, that they would eventually win, six years later, finally guaranteeing equal pay amongst the US Women’s National team and the Men’s. However, despite them being one of the most decorated national football teams in existence, having won the most women’s World Cup titles (4) alongside four Olympic Titles, they are still met with misogynistic and sexist abuse day in and day out.

The first-ever female Ballon D’or winner, Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg, has arguably taken the most prolific stand-alone protest against the FA’s attitudes towards women’s football. In 2017, she stepped down from the Norwegian national team for five years, subsequently missing the 2019 World Cup in France. More recently, in September of 2022, fifteen members of the women’s Spanish team stepped down after consistent mistreatment from (then) head coach, Jorge Vilda, and disagreement over mistreatment of players.

Despite internal-based protests of players themselves campaigning for change, why are government bodies jeopardising the future of women’s football?

Domestic football in England has changed, evidently forever, since the summer of 2022. We have seen the fan’s interest in the top-flight league of football, the Women’s Super League, set records of their own and draw interest like no other, and at a rate no one could have anticipated. During the current 2023/24 WSL campaign, Arsenal Women have had a greater average attendance for their league games (17,501) than ten other Premier League clubs, despite only playing in the club’s stadium five times out of their 12 home matches. This increased attraction to domestic football in England is a direct response to how successful the national team performed two summers ago. But without continued representation for girls to idolise and aspire to be like, without continued support from the governing bodies, the likelihood that the traction will continue to strengthen is unlikely.

Swiss football had hoped to emulate the same success and recognition that the Lionesses gained after winning the Euros on home soil. Arsenal and Lioness centre-back Lotte Wubben-Moy wrote a letter to the UK Prime Minister following the legacy of winning the Euros. Along with the other 22 Euros-winning squad’s signatures, they demanded that girls and boys had equality when playing football in school. As a result, a package of £600m was invested by the British Government to fund this change.

The British Government responded in a way that would build the stepping stones for little girls and boys to follow in the footsteps of their heroes, so why isn’t the Swiss Government preparing to capitalise from the same thing?

Even though the cut in funding has sparked major controversy and there are concerns over whether Switzerland should even still be allowed to host the tournament, the Swiss Football Association still, “hold high prospects for this to be Europe’s largest women’s sporting event to date.” To anyone, this seems comical, as the 2022 Euros generated £81m across the eight cities they hosted in. So, with less funding and investment from the host nation, how could this possibly economically benefit women’s football in Switzerland?

When current defending champions, England, opened their Euros 2025 qualifying campaign, they hosted Sweden at Wembley that saw a crowd of 63,248 people. This is almost double the crowd figure that will see the Euros 2025 Final, which is being held in Switzerland’s biggest stadium in Basel, St. Jakob-Park, which has a stadium capacity of only 37,500.

Instead of a sporting success, the event could be re-shaped into that of a “grudge tournament” should Switzerland still be allowed to taint the image of the tournament. The slash of funding itself symbolises that female athletes are not worth as much as their male counterparts, and it acts as a form of discrimination towards the women’s game.

Historically, Switzerland have spearheaded women’s football, as they were one of the first countries in Europe to form a women’s national team, and later founded their women’s national league in 1970. The prior promises made by the Swiss Federal Council now seem like a slap in the face to their female football athletes—in 2021 they introduced the Equality Strategy that aimed for men and women to have equal economic status and security without violence and discrimination by 2030. However, their recent acts have served opposite to this, as five years prior to their own target, they’ve marginalised their female athletes as a call to save their money.

In the modern world of football, even though Switzerland are ranked number 22 in the world, you only have to look at the Lionesses who were ranked eighth pre-Euros, and shot up, post-tournament, to fourth and currently sit second in the world. Switzerland has European stars that are the face of their national team, with the likes of Lia Wälti from Arsenal, Alisha Lehmann and Noelle Martiz from Villa, and PSG’s Ramona Bachmann.

A well-organised, fully-funded Euros from the Swiss Federal Council could give Switzerland their “moment”. Just as England’s national hero Chloe Kelly did for them on that fateful day at Wembley Stadium.

Millie Dixon

Millie Dixon wants to propel women’s football in today’s ever-growing, ever-changing world of sports.