England boss Sarina Wiegman backs World Cup qualifying changes if women’s game benefits


In Charge: Sarina Wiegman (The FA via Getty Images)

England the head coach Sarina Wiegman backed calls to change the qualification process for major women’s football tournaments.

The lionesses have already qualified for next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and they can finish qualifying with a 100 per cent record in Stoke tonight.

England beat opponents Luxembourg, who are ranked 117th in the world, 10-0 in the second leg and beat Latvia 20-0 in a previous qualifier.

These huge wins have led to calls for major tournament qualifications to be changed to ensure they remain competitive.

When asked if she would like to see things change in the future, Wiegman said, “We talked about it before. I think we have to make changes if it’s better for the development of women’s football.

“I think sometimes a bigger score is okay, but when it’s all the time, you have to ask yourself: is it good for the team that loses so much and for the team that wins so much?

“Then you might want to make changes to benefit the game in both countries. I think this discussion has been going on for a while, too [with] UEFA and FIFA, so we’ll see where it takes us.

Tonight’s game is England’s first at home since winning Euro 2022 in the summer. The success of the Lionesses has led to a boom in ticket sales, with tonight’s match at the Bet365 stadium sold out and drawing a crowd of just over 30,000.

After beating Austria 2-0 on Saturday to secure qualification, Wiegman is expected to make changes tonight, and Chelsea’s Lauren James could make his first start.

“It’s going to be 30,000 coming to watch us, so we really want to show our game again and have a little party,” Wiegman said. “The fan support was great at the Euros, but they keep coming now.”

Meanwhile, Wales are looking to join England at the World Cup, and they will qualify for the play-offs if they can score a point at home to Slovenia tonight.

Wales have never qualified for a major tournament before, and the Cardiff City Stadium is expected to host over 10,000 fans tonight, more than double the previous record.

“We know the fans will play a huge role,” said Wales manager Gemma Grainger. “We need a point but we are going to prepare to win the game – we wouldn’t have any other approach.”


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