Labour MP and leading London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has called for the city to host a ‘homecoming’ event for the England women’s football team to congratulate them on their ‘awesome efforts’ at the World Cup in Canada.
Ahead of their crunch semi-final tie with Japan this evening, the Tooting MP who is bidding to be the next Mayor of London has said ‘win or lose’ tonight the capital should be staging a significant celebration to recognise the achievements of The Lionesses.
“Ideally, there would be a homecoming game hosted at Wembley Stadium to allow fans to pay tribute to the team because not only have they put in some fantastic performances during this World Cup but they’ve also made history,” said Khan.
“There’s no doubt that their awesome efforts in Vancouver on Saturday when they knocked out the hosts Canada captured the public’s imagination and elevated the status of women’s football in this country.
“Of course, if they beat Japan tonight and then go all the way in the final an open-top bus parade around the streets of London would be in order.
“But even if they don’t, I do think we should be put on a special event or exhibition match to welcome them home.
“At the end of the day, they’ve become the first English team ever to reach the last four of the Women’s World Cup and in the process they will have inspired a whole new generation of young girls and women to take up the sport, which can only be seen as a positive.”
An avid football fan and Liverpool supporter, Khan said he’d been following the England team’s progress with his wife and two daughters.
Although he believes victory against the reigning world champions will be a ‘tough ask’ he thinks that if they can emulate their quarter-final heroics – when 1.6 million BBC viewers tuned in to watch them overcome a strong Canadian side 2-1, despite the game kicking off after midnight – they’re in with a fighting chance.
“I think tonight’s game is too close to call – it really could go either way,” he said. “One thing’s for sure though once we’ve broken our fast in the Khan household we’ll all be getting ready to gather around the telly and cheer the team on.”