All shades of orange was spread across homes, streets and, ultimately, stadiums during the UEFA Women’s EURO. Beyond the colour was a depiction of an unquestionable love for women’s football in the Netherlands. The Dutch fans made the tournament their carnival and they reaped the dividends at the FC Twente Stadion on Sunday where their women’s national football team clinched the Women’s EURO crown for the first time.
The three-week tournament saw the record number of spectators to watch a women’s football match in the country rise from 21,732 in the opening match against 2013 finalists, Norway, to 28,182 in the six-goal thriller against Denmark in the final – and expectedly, most of the painted faces, colourful costumes and banners represented the hosts.
“When you looked around, everyone was orange and everyone was screaming and supporting us,” Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal rightfully observed.
Midfielder Jackie Groenen added: “It’s like we’re playing with 12 players with all the fans supporting us. It’s amazing having them behind us.”
At the start, not many of these fans knew the names of their Orange Lionesses, but one game after another, they began to don jerseys bearing “Martens” and “Miedema”.
Again, they did not let Neymar’s big move from Barcelona to Paris saint-Germain become a distraction. In the Netherlands’ semi-final against England, an orange banner – when translated into English – boldy stated: “who needs Neymar when you have Lieke”. The Barcelona forward was the subject of another banner which simply read: “NeyMARtens”. And deservedly, Lieke Martens went on to bag the Player of the tournament accolade.
The Netherlands beat Denmark 4-2 to become only the fourth nation to win the UEFA Women’s EURO. And they did it with a win in all their matches. Hence it was not surprising that they dominated UEFA’s team of the tournament, contributing five players.
Team of the Tournament
Sari van Veenendaal (Netherlands)
Lucy Bronze (England), Anouk Dekker (Netherlands), Steph Houghton (England), Verena Aschauer (Austria)
Theresa Nielsen (Denmark), Jackie Groenen (Netherlands), Sherida Spitse (Netherlands), Lieke Martens (Netherlands) – player of the tournament
Pernille Harder (Denmark), Jodie Taylor (England)