England women’s captain Leah Williamson admits that she is still adjusting to life in the spotlight after winning Euro 2022.
It has been a whirlwind period for Williamson and her Lionesses team-mates after they beat Germany in the final at Wembley on July 31 to earn the country’s first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
Stars such as Chloe Kelly, Ella Toone and Alessia Russo have been catapulted into the public eye and reached a new level of fame in light of the tournament.
Leah Williamson admits that she is still adjusting to life in the spotlight after winning Euro 2022
But Williamson, 25, says it has been difficult to get used to, particularly as there is not the financial backing in place in the women’s game to protect players from the side effects of stardom.
‘If you want to do what we’re doing, I think then you have to accept a certain level of attention,’ the Arsenal defender told The Telegraph.
‘The fame has come with it, but we can’t protect ourselves from it. I worry about things like that, because naturally we’re at the top of our game and history tells you that people will try to bring you down.
It has been a whirlwind period for the Lionesses after they beat Germany in the Wembley final
Stars such as Chloe Kelly have reached a new level of fame in light of the tournament
‘We don’t have the same means of protection that somebody very wealthy would, who has that level of fame. The life that we live, we’re not rich, we’re not wealthy. We live normal lives and we do a sport that’s so high profile.
‘That change is difficult I think. I’m just conscious I want to protect the girls from that, because what we’ve done is amazing but it’s literally changed overnight. There was no gradual build-up to it.’
Some Women’s Super League players earn as little as £20,000-a-year and while the best players in the division are paid up to £250,000-a-year, that is still around 50 times less than their male counterparts.
Every England player reportedly received a bonus of £55,000 for lifting the Euro 2022 trophy, but again this is minute in comparison to the sums on offer in the men’s game.
Williamson, 25, says there is not the financial backing in place to protect female players
‘I think in terms of profile, [the Euros victory] is a fantastic fillip for a game that has been growing for quite a few years,’ football finance expert Kieran Maguire told ITV.
‘It will give opportunities to expand interest in the game, increase attendances and there’s already talk of a number of very high profile sponsorship arrangements between the WSL and commercial partners.
‘However, women’s football is seeking a different demographic in terms of the supporter fanbase so I don’t think we’ll anticipate equal pay, equal attendances and equal money coming in compared to the men’s game.’