Interview

Fran Kirby: Television audience shows women’s football is on the up

Chelsea Women’s Fran Kirby believes that the women’s game is on the rise after England’s opening World Cup 2-1 victory against Scotland was the UK’s most watched women’s football match ever, attracting 6.1 million viewers, according to the BBC.

Kirby said the record-breaking television viewing, which had a 37.8 per cent share of the available audience, shows that those who dismiss the women’s game are 'a minority'.

‘I think we're always fighting these people who are saying stuff but it just shows that it is a minority and there are many people out there that want us to do well.

‘And ultimately we are playing for England, for our country, and to make the supporters back home proud.

‘We're not playing to try to show these people that people do care about women's football, that's not what we're trying to do. We're trying to win a World Cup for our country, and I think everyone who supports football can get behind that. Hopefully, we can continue to grow those figures and keep that minority a minority and really grow this sport.’

On Sunday England showed their potential in the first half when they led 2-0 at the break. However, the second half was a whole different game to the first and after Scotland netted in the 79th minute, it was a nervy ending.

‘We have spoken as a team now that it is the first game - we can't get too ahead of ourselves, and we can't criticise ourselves too much.

‘We need to build momentum. At the previous World Cup (Canada 2015) we lost our first game, against France (1-0), and we went on to win a bronze medal.

‘So we can't dwell too much about our second-half performance but we know there's room for improvement,’ said the Blues striker.

Highlights of the game are on FIFA's YouTube channel

Kirby assisted both of England’s goals, the first goal she crossed into the box and on its way in it hit Scotland’s Nicola Docherty’s arm and following a VAR review, referee Jana Adamkova awarded a penalty for handball. Lyon’s Nikita Parris stepped up to take the spot-kick which successfully went in. The second goal, scored by Ellen White of City, was created from Kirby who poked the ball into the pathway of her England team-mate to curl into the net.

On the VAR decision, the 25-year-old said: ‘I kind of understood what was going on a lot more than the girls - I think some of them thought we were having a drinks break!

'As soon as I hit the cross, I knew it hit her hand, and from the conversations that we had previously, I knew probably it was going to get given as a penalty.

'It was good because then, when everything was going on, the uncertainty, I could go over to Nikita and basically say “This is going to be a penalty, make sure you're ready”, so you're not in that emotion when the decision gets given, you can accept it now and get ready to take the penalty, which she did fantastically.’

England have made their journey from Nice to the North of France to face Argentina on 14 June at Stade Oceane in Le Harve. The Lionesses are currently top of Group D, while the South Americans, ranked 37th in the world, sit second after drawing 0-0 with Japan.

‘We managed to catch a bit of the second half because our flight was a little bit delayed, and we were really impressed with Argentina, how hard they were working, and you could see after the game the emotion they had, how much it meant to them.

‘They are going to use that emotion and drive coming into our game, so we need to make sure we're fully on it and give them the respect they deserve,’ Kirby said in regard to Argentina’s victory.
 

Today's action involving Chelsea players is Ji So-Yun and South Korea taking on Nigeria at 2pm (UK time) and hosts France playing Norway (Maren Mjelde and Maria Thorisdottir) at 8pm .
 

MORE FROM CHELSEA