Women's Euro 2022

Women's Euro 2022: Organisers respond to Academy Stadium 'training ground' criticism

Ali Rampling
The Academy Stadium hosts three group fixtures at Euro 2022
The Academy Stadium hosts three group fixtures at Euro 2022 / Cameron Smith/GettyImages
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Euro 2022 organisers have defended their decision to use Manchester City's Academy Stadium as a venue for the tournament, after Iceland's Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir called the stadium a 'training ground'.

The Academy Stadium is the smallest venue in use for Euro 2022, with a capacity of 4,700. Iceland play their opening two group fixtures at the stadium, and both have already sold out.

The size of the ground was branded as 'embarrassing' by Gunnarsdottir following the bumper attendances that recent Women's Champions League fixtures have attracted.

"Manchester City Academy is not a training ground," a Euro 2022 spokesperson told BBC Sport. "It is the official home stadium of Manchester City Women's Football Club.

"It has been used previously for UEFA Women's Champions League fixtures and will generate a great atmosphere worthy of a Women's Euro.

"We believe that with two of the biggest football stadiums in England [Old Trafford and Wembley], four venues with a capacity of 30,000 or more, two venues over 10,000 and two stadiums under 10,000, the right mix of stadiums has been chosen to provide the tournament with a platform to fulfil its potential."

Iceland kick off their Euro 2022 campaign at the Academy Stadium against Belgium, before returning to Manchester City Women's stadium to face Italy.

The Academy Stadium is the smallest venue in use at Euro 2022 by some distance. The New York Stadium and Leigh Sports Village have the second smallest capacities, both holding 12,000 spectators.

The New York Stadium and Leigh Sports Village will both host quarter final fixtures, while the Academy Stadium's use ends at the group stages.

“I'm a little bit disappointed. It's shocking,” Gunnarsdottir had told podcast Their Pitch. "Playing in England there are so many stadiums and we have a training ground from [Manchester] City taking, what? 4,000 spectators.

“It’s not the respect [we deserve],” she said. “Watch women's football today, they are filling out the stadiums. You see Barcelona and Madrid, 95,000 watching the game [at Camp Nou]. [Euros organisers] are not prepared that we will sell more than 4,000 tickets."


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