BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year: Women’s football dominates 2022 as Beth Mead wins top honour

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Women's football has grown massively with the Lionesses Euros win and female representation at Qatar World Cup

England's Lionesses have more to celebrate this year after a hugely successful Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony.

With Beth Mead clinching the main prize to cap off her triumphant 2022, Sarina Wiegman becoming the first female coach to win an award as the Lionesses were also named ‘team of the year’.

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The successive wins cemented women’s football at the forefront of the sporting world.

It comes after Wiegman’s team were victorious at the Women’s Euros this year, beating Germany 2-1, on home soil at Wembley Stadium. The UEFA Women’s Euros win was the first major trophy lifted by an English team since the men won the World Cup back in 1966.

However, the Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) silverware and the Euros cup were not the only crowning jewels given to the Lionesses this year as fan-favourite and now retired-footballer Jill Scott was named Queen of the Jungle in I’m A Celebrity 2022.

Sunderland lass, Euro winner and now Queen of the Jungle, Jill Scott. (Pic:ITV)Sunderland lass, Euro winner and now Queen of the Jungle, Jill Scott. (Pic:ITV)
Sunderland lass, Euro winner and now Queen of the Jungle, Jill Scott. (Pic:ITV)

An important message threaded throughout each of last night’s acceptance speeches, and a topic of conversation brought up during Jill’s time on the ITV reality show, was the growth and empowerment of women’s football.

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Since 2017, the number of women’s football teams has doubled which is exceptional especially with viewers hearing from Jill that when she started out she faced so much contempt from parents.

When accepting the team of the year SPOTY trophy, Jill told the audience: “This Christmas, to think that there will be little girls asking for football boots and embarking on their own journey. That’s all I can ask for.”

While in I’m A Celeb, Jill said: “If I beat their precious son, they’d shout stuff at us. Like ‘kick her, hack her down…’ I’d come off the pitch in tears.”

Another recent broadcast that showed the evolution of women’s football and women in football is the Qatar 2022 World Cup, where the major tournament not only had an all-female refereeing team but also featured more female reporters in their coverage.

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For the first time in 92 years, the all-female referee team took to the pitch for the Germany versus Costa Rica match with the former team coming away with a 4-2 win.

France’s Stephanie Frappart, who has experience refereeing male championships from taking charge at the UEFA Super Cup and another World Cup match, led the way onto the field, followed by Mexico’s Karen Diaz and Brazil’s Neuza Back.

Notably, the number of female presenters seemed to be more prolific this year with Gabby Logan, Kelly Cates, Alex Scott and Pien Meulensteen among the UK pundits and Jacqui Oatley becoming the first woman play-by-play commentator for the American World Cup coverage.

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