Former UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, finalist in the race to become the next British Prime Minister, wants England to bid to host a future women’s football World Cup after the country’s women’s team made history with its Euro championship win over Germany.
Postal ballots for Conservative Party members to choose between Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as a new Tory party leader to replace the outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be mailed out from Monday.
Dubbing the win at London’s iconic Wembley Stadium on Sunday night as “transformational” for women’s sport, the prime ministerial candidate said he wants Britain to be the home of the world’s best sport and, if elected, he would accelerate plans for a review of women’s football to grow the opportunities of the women’s game.
“Britain is a terrific host of major sporting events, which not only make us immensely proud, but also generate jobs and opportunities,” said Sunak.
“I will therefore work with home nations FAs [Football Associations] to explore a bid for a future World Cup so those inspired by the Lionesses have even more to look forward to. Global Britain will be the home of the world’s best sport,” he said.
The formal bidding process for the 2027 World Cup is just about to begin, and there will be subsequent bidding rounds for the 2031 and 2035 World Cups.
Under Sunak’s leadership if elected to 10 Downing Street, a review into women’s football would be launched immediately, capitalising on the enthusiasm generated by the Euros and the success of the “Lionesses” – as the England team is known.
“These Euros have been transformational. In the long history of women’s football in this country, this game-changing squad has done more to smash through barriers than any other,” the 42-year-old British Indian former Cabinet minister said.
“I’m so proud that my two girls are growing up in a country where they can see terrific role models at the top of their game. We now need to ensure there is a tangible grassroots legacy for the young people who have been inspired by what they have seen,” he said, referring to his daughters Anoushka and Krishna.
The UK-born former minister sees himself as a lifelong Southampton Football Club supporter, the team from his birthplace on England’s south coast.
His campaign team highlighted that as Chancellor, Sunak announced a record extra investment of GBP 205 million in grassroots pitches to build the next generation of sports pitches, which can be used for longer days and all year round, so inclement weather will no longer stop play.
He also committed GBP 320 million to the school sport premium each year.
To make the most of legacy opportunities from the Euro, Sunak plans to create tighter guidance for primary schools on how the physical education and sports premium should be spent, with an emphasis on high quality coaching.
He will also ensure greater oversight and scrutiny to ensure the premium is being spent as intended, his campaign team said.
Sunak has also pledged to direct Britain’s schools watchdog, Ofsted, to look at the provision of sport in every school inspection as part of their pupil development criteria.