As the country still reels from England’s victory in the Euros on Sunday, there’s one man who has been notably missing from the celebrations: the Prime Minister. Unlike the men’s cricket team who won the Ashes in 2005, the men’s Rugby World Cup winners in 2003 or the women’s national rugby and cricket teams, the squad to bring football home for the first time since 1966 have not been invited to No 10 to mark their achievement.
When questioned, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson insisted the PM supports women’s football, despite the fact he was not at Wembley on Sunday night. Johnson, who was present to see England’s men’s team lose to Italy last summer, watched the epic victory against Germany not from the stands of the stadium but from his country house: Chequers.
Contrastingly, Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss and the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, did make it to the match. As did Johnson’s counterpart, chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, who was at Wembley to watch his country be defeated by the England squad. He then visited the team’s locker room to congratulate them on the tournament after the game.
Johnson also neglected to invite the Lionesses to Downing Street on Monday after they lifted their trophy in Trafalgar Square as he was attending the funeral of the former Norther Ireland first minister David Trimble. Tomorrow, he’s going on holiday until Sunday - making a team visit even more unlikely. No 10 has also said there are ‘no plans’ for an extra bank holiday in our calendars to celebrate the achievement.
‘I’m sure the England Women’s football team are breathing a massive sigh of relief that they don’t have to go anywhere near Johnson,’ wrote one fan on Twitter. ‘He’s hiding,’ added another.
Yet, no matter his hectic schedule (or potential lack of back bone), the stark contrast in the prime minister’s support for the men’s England team to the women’s demonstrates a lack of recognition for the Lionesses from the man in charge of the country they have just made proud. In his absence, Johnson suggests their importance is lesser - that they’re not worth his time.
Women have fought to be taken seriously as footballers for generations. From the teams that were banned from playing on Football League grounds in 1921 to the players who worked tirelessly to make the FA’s Women’s Super League fully professional in 2018, recognition has been an uphill battle only now nearly won. Boris Johnson couldn’t find the energy to be chauffeured back from the countryside to watch the champions of Europe play - let’s hope the next Prime Minister has more time for the nation’s heroes.