Copenhagen hopes that Euros bid will boost city’s growing women’s sports ambitions

Copenhagen is set to boost its growing credentials in women’s sport if a joint bid by Denmark and its Scandinavian neighbours for the Uefa Women’s Euro 2025 is successful.

Copenhagen is hoping that a joint bid from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to host football’s Uefa Women’s Euro 2025 can support the city’s long-term plans to invest in women’s sport and encourage girls to become active from an early age.

The Nordic nations’ bid is facing competition from France, Poland, Switzerland and Ukraine, with Uefa set to award the hosting rights in December 2022.

Having successfully staged matches during last year’s men’s Uefa European Championship, Copenhagen would play a key role if the women’s tournament heads to the Nordics.

Jesper Møller, president of the Danish Football Association (DBU), has said the Nordic bid is “much more than a championship” and represents a chance to ensure the continued development of women’s football for “more diversity across common Nordic visions and values”.

Møller added that Denmark would “reuse and refine” all the good experiences from Euro 2020, where Copenhagen’s Parken stadium hosted the Danes’ three group-stage matches and the knockout game between Croatia and Spain.

Local initiatives

For Lars Vallentin, senior manager at Wonderful Copenhagen, the official tourism organisation of the Capital Region of Denmark, the Women’s Euro presents the city with a fantastic opportunity to engage with women and girls.

He said: “Copenhagen was very successful combining the main event of Euro 2020 with local initiatives bringing local sport associations and grassroots activities into the fan park, thus weaving the local clubs and initiatives into the Euro 2020 fabric, anchoring the elite event with the city.

“We will want to replicate this and create an event that is much more than a sports event, but a driver for local development and a platform for the local community.

“In Copenhagen, we always aim to create open events that engage and inspire the local community. Euro 2020 was a huge celebration of football, not only in the national football stadium, but all over the country, and with the Women’s Euro 2025 we aspire to create the same celebration for both locals and guests.”

Increasing profile

Vallentin believes the increasing profile of women’s sport in terms of TV ratings, attendances, sponsorship and prize money has been “very noticeable” in Copenhagen, with football, cycling and sailing attracting more female participants and spectators.

“With the Women’s Euro 2025, we aim to build on the legacies of Euro 2020 and continue the focus on women in football, just as it is an integral part of the Nordic bid to create a sustainable, well-run and open event,” he said.

On the immediate horizon for Copenhagen is the Tour of Scandinavia, Denmark’s first Women’s World Tour cycling race. The event will begin in the Danish capital on August 9 and feature stages in Sweden and Norway before concluding on August 15.

As well as giving locals the chance to witness world-class athletes on their doorstep, the event will provide organisers with the opportunity to promote cycling as a healthy lifestyle choice. As the home of 673,000 bicycles, Copenhagen would appear to be the perfect fit to host such an event.

The race will also come on the back of Copenhagen’s staging of the Tour de France’s Grand Départ on July 1.

“For Danish cycling – and female cycling in particular – the Tour of Scandinavia, with a first stage in Denmark, represents a unique opportunity for the Danish Cycling Federation,” said Ulrich Gorm, head of communications for the sport’s national governing body.

“With this World Tour race, we can showcase how strongly female cycling has manifested itself. With the large group of elite riders, we see an amazing opportunity to promote female cycling, which is also experiencing growth.”

Gorm added: “When the first stage of the Tour of Scandinavia has finished, we start the work to share the story of how great it is to cycle, especially for young girls and women, with the involvement of clubs and the trainers being an important element.

“We also expect to use the Tour of Scandinavia as a platform to promote girls’ cycling, just as the local clubs will make use of the opportunity to promote themselves.”

Role models

Vallentin also cited the importance of young girls having role models they can relate and aspire to – something events like the Tour of Scandinavia and the Women’s Euro 2025 will doubtlessly provide.

“It’s important to have heroes you can aspire to and even though girls can also be inspired by Lionel Messi, Christian Eriksen and Tadej Pogačar, it is important that they have female heroes, whom they can mirror themselves on and see that elite sport is not a man’s world,” he said.

“Therefore, female stars like Pernille Harder, Nadia Nadim and Cecilie Uttrup Ludvig play a big role in getting girls to join football and cycling and the Danish federations use them actively as role models.”

Hosting heritage

Copenhagen’s status as a cycling city will be further boosted when it hosts the UCI Track World Championships in 2024 and the UCI BMX World Championships in 2025, with both events set to feature leading women’s athletes.

For the first time this year, Copenhagen’s Red Bull Cliff Dive will also include a female heat, while the city’s SailGP event features women competitors. All of these events tie in with Copenhagen’s underlying event-hosting strategy.

“Copenhagen has a very strong focus on all citizens living active lives,” said Vallentin. “Often it is more challenging to attract girls to the sport associations. Therefore, the activation of Euro 2020 focused on girls, and we will continue to build on this legacy with new initiatives leading up to Women’s Euro 2025 and continuing long after.

“But not all girls wish to play football or race bikes, so we also focus on creating public spaces designed for girls to be active and promote street sports and other activities, which can appeal to girls and make the already very active Copenhageners exercise even more.”