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England’s Euro 2022 heroes send open letter to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have pledged action after receiving a powerful open letter from England’s Lionesses demanding more football lessons for girls at school, following their stunning Euro 2022 victory at the weekend. 

The winning squad urged the next prime minister – whoever it proves to be – to ensure that their 2-1 win over Germany at Wembley on Sunday was ‘just the beginning’ for women’s football in the UK.

But both contenders for the next Conservative Party leader fell short of fully committing to the letter’s main requests, which were that girls get two hours of PE lessons each week and that every schoolgirl in the country is given the same amount of access to football as boys. 

The letter was supported by a host of famous faces, including football stars Rio Ferdinand, Jordan Henderson and Jesse Lingard, who retweeted the missive using the hashtag #Letgirlsplay. 

Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, who was pictured attending the final with Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nadine Dorries, also showed support by commenting under the Lionesses’ Instagram post with clapping and thumbs up emojis.  

It came just hours after the i reported that the Department of Education (DofE) refused to commit to providing girls with equal access to football, insisting it was ‘up to schools to decide’ which sports they teach. 

Commentator and former England player Ian Wright also backed the letter, tweeting: ‘This team stays winning, they have done their bit! Over to you @trussliz @RishiSunak #LetGirlsPlay.’  

In his response to the Lionesses, Mr Sunak vowed to ‘tighten the accountability’ surrounding PE lessons at schools, but stopped short of committing to providing equal access to the sport for girls and boys. 

The winning England squad (pictured) urged the next prime minister - whoever it proves to be - to ensure that their 2-1 win over Germany at Wembley on Sunday was 'just the beginning' for women's football in the UK.

The winning England squad (pictured) urged the next prime minister – whoever it proves to be – to ensure that their 2-1 win over Germany at Wembley on Sunday was ‘just the beginning’ for women’s football in the UK. 

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss fell short of fully committing to the letter's main requests, which were that girls get two hours of PE lessons each week and that every girl in the country is given the same amount of access to football as boys

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss fell short of fully committing to the letter’s main requests, which were that girls get two hours of PE lessons each week and that every girl in the country is given the same amount of access to football as boys

The Truss campaign, meanwhile, said the PM hopeful supports the idea and ‘wants equal access to all sports for boys and girls’, but also stopped short of vowing specific action. 

Her campaign added: ‘She is committed to investigating what prevents schools from delivering the recommended minimum of two hours PE per week.’ 

Social media users were quick to criticise the rivals, branding their statements ’empty promises.’ 

One fan replied to Ms Truss: ‘You’ve had 12 years to invest a bit of money well. You haven’t. And you can’t.’ 

Another simply said: ‘Word salad, promising nothing’, while another fumed under Mr Sunak’s post: ‘Absolute definition of swerving a question with political b******s language. 

‘You would love to see 2hrs? Well then pledge to make it happen- it can be done , but you don’t say you will because you don’t actually care and jumping on anything you can. Just do the right thing.’ 

Twitter users slam Rishi and Liz's responses as 'mealy mouthed' and 'non commital'

Twitter users slam Rishi and Liz’s responses as ‘mealy mouthed’ and ‘non commital’ 

Mr Wright previously implored the government to let girls play football during PE. 

The commentator said after the Lionesses’ semi-final victory against Sweden: ‘Whatever happens in the final now, if girls are not allowed to play football just like the boys can in their PE lessons after this tournament, then what are we doing?’

The squad later sealed their dramatic win over Germany after extra-time thanks to goals from Ella Toone and Chloe Kelly to win their first major trophy in front of 87,192 fans at Wembley Stadium on Sunday evening.

The entire squad signed the joint letter to the two Conservative leadership candidates today, outlining their hopes for change moving forwards.

The Lionesses have sent an open latter to Rishi Sunak

The entire squad signed the open letter for Liz Truss

The entire squad have now signed a joint letter to the two Conservative leadership candidates Rishi Sunak (left) and Liz Truss (right) outlining their hopes for change moving forwards

The letter read: ‘Dear Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, on Sunday evening history was made. 

‘The dreams of 23 women came true. England became European champions for the first time in history.

‘Throughout the Euros, we as a team spoke about our legacy and goal to inspire a nation. 

‘Many will think that this has already been achieved, but we see this only as the beginning. 

‘We are looking to the future. We want to create real change in this country and we are asking you, if you were to become Prime Minister on 5 September, to help us achieve that change.

‘We want every young girl in the nation to be able to play football at school.

The squad is urging the next Prime Minister to ensure their Euros win is 'just the beginning'

The squad is urging the next Prime Minister to ensure their Euros win is ‘just the beginning’

The Lionesses are calling on the government to ensure all girls can play football in school

‘Currently only 63% of girls can play football in PE lessons. The reality is we are inspiring young girls to play football, only for many to end up going to school and not being able to play.

‘This is something that we all experienced growing up. We were often stopped from playing. So we made our own teams, we travelled across the country and despite the odds, we just kept playing football.

‘Women’s football has come a long way. But it still has a long way to go.

‘We ask you and your government to ensure that all girls have access to a minimum of two hours a week PE. Not only should we be offering football to all girls, we also need to invest in and support female PE teachers too.

The squad including Georgia Stanway (pictured) want a guarantee a minimum of two hours of PE every week to ensure Lionesses' legacy is not wasted

The squad including Georgia Stanway (pictured) want a guarantee a minimum of two hours of PE every week to ensure Lionesses’ legacy is not wasted

‘Their role is crucial and we need to give them the resources to provide girls’ football sessions. They are key role models from which so many young girls can flourish.#

‘We have made incredible strides in the women’s game, but this generation of school girls deserve more. 

‘They deserve to play football at lunchtime, they deserve to play football in PE lessons and they deserve to believe that they can one day play for England. We want their dreams to also come true.

‘This is an opportunity to make a huge difference. A change that will impact millions of young girls’ lives. 

‘We – the 23 members of the England Senior Women’s Euro squad – ask you to make it a priority to invest into girls’ football in schools, so that every girl has the choice.

‘Regards, The 2022 UEFA Women’s EURO England Squad.’

England's clash with USA at Wembley in October has remarkably sold out inside 24 hours

England’s clash with USA at Wembley in October has remarkably sold out inside 24 hours

The Lionesses’ official Twitter account had a message for the fans buying tickets for the match

Under current guidelines on single-sex sports coaching, while a mixed school can have ‘a boys-only football team, the school would still have to allow girls equal opportunities to participate in comparable sporting activities’.

These comparable sports include netball, rounders, tennis and badminton. 

A DfE spokesperson said: ‘The success of the Lionesses in the Women’s Euro 2022 will inspire a generation of girls to get involved with football. 

‘Schools can decide what sports they offer and should aim to take their pupils’ views into account on which activities they want to be able to do.’

The legacy from their success is already evident elsewhere as tickets for England’s friendly with the United States at Wembley sold out less than 24 hours after going on sale.

The Lionesses announced the fixture on Tuesday afternoon after they were crowned European champions last Sunday but by 2pm on Wednesday only hospitality tickets remained.

The FA website crashed several times with the governing body apologising for the issues.


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