England

FIFA Women's World Cup 2019: Lionesses fans plan for semi-final

Woman has England flag painted on her cheek Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption England fans are gearing up for Tuesday's semi-final

England's women's football team will take on the USA in Lyon, France, in the semi-final of the FIFA Women's World Cup later. Their fans have been making plans to watch the big game.

For the second summer in a row, England has been gripped by World Cup fever.

And once again, fans are getting ready to watch their country compete in a semi-final - although hopefully Phil Neville's team, affectionately known as the Lionesses, can go at least one better than Gareth Southgate's side which lost 2-1 to Croatia in Russia last July.

Many fans are going to Lyon to watch the game live in the stadium.

Image copyright Rachel Hopkinson
Image caption Rachel Hopkinson and her daughter Reese are travelling to Lyon to watch the match

Among them will be Rachel Hopkinson and her 11-year-old daughter Reese from Darrington, near Pontefract.

The duo left their home at 10:30 BST on Monday to arrive in Lyon on match-day morning, having travelled by train to London and then taken an arduous 14-hour overnight bus ride to the French city.

"I had been looking at going for a while but as soon as they made it to the semi-final I know we just had to go for it," Ms Hopkinson said.

She said seeing the Lionesses live should be a good influence on Reese, herself an aspiring footballer and member of the Leeds United academy.

They previously went to support England at the UEFA Women's Euro Championships 2017 in the Netherlands, and have watched numerous Lionesses matches around England.

Image copyright Rachel Hopkinson
Image caption Reese Hopkinson poses with Lioness Nikita Pariss

"I want to give Reese an idea of what it could be like for her," Ms Hopkinson said.

"The players are always fabulous with the fans at the end, coming over and posing for selfies; there is always really good fan engagement with the Lionesses.

"I want Reese to remember that, should she ever get to be where they are. But this is also a little adventure and really good quality time for me and my daughter.

"My mum used to take me to Manchester United matches when I was a girl so to be able to do that with my daughter is brilliant."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Lionesses have won all five games so far but the USA are the reigning champions and ranked number one in the world

Also heading to Lyon on a "spontaneous adventure" are former Nottingham Forest Ladies player Amy White and her boyfriend Mark Bullock.

They bought their tickets on Sunday and are driving for 14 hours to get there.

Ms White said: "There's something about this World Cup campaign that has captured our imaginations and we thought, 'When is the next chance we will get over to see a World Cup semi-final?'

"Whatever the score, it's going to be a great atmosphere and a great game."

Image copyright Amy White
Image caption Amy White and Mark Bullock are driving to France after buying tickets less than 48 hours before kick off

Those unable to travel to France are also making alternative plans to watch the game.

Battersea Park in London is preparing for a big turnout as it will show the game as part of its Summer in Battersea Park series of events.

A spokesman for organisers Wandsworth Council said it was hoped a "sizeable" crowd will watch the match, with "all welcome".

London mayor Sadiq Khan has given his support to the screening, saying: "Everybody is hugely excited by the success of the England Women's World Cup team and I know that Londoners of all ages and backgrounds will want to cheer on the Lionesses."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Battersea Park has already hosted a number of events this summer including a hot air balloon launch

Boxpark venues in Wembley, Croydon and Shoreditch will also show the match as they have done for England's previous five games, while pubs across the nation are also planning parties.

A Boxpark spokesman said: "We've seen a great turnout for our Women's World Cup screenings and with every Lioness win, the number of supporters watching at Boxpark sites grows."

Showcase Cinemas has been screening the games for free at 21 cinemas.

General manager Mark Barlow said hundreds of fans had been attending to "cheer on the Lionesses", adding: "We are expecting the semi-final to be the busiest screening so far and we wish England the best of luck."

In Newcastle, the Screen on the Green in Old Eldon Square will show the final, with fans particularly rooting for the city's own Carly Telford, Berwick-born Lucy Bronze, team captain Steph Houghton from Durham, Jill Scott from Sunderland and Demi Stokes from South Shields.

Cafe Football in Manchester, which is co-owned by Lionesses manager Neville with his brother Gary, and fellow former Manchester United teammates Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, is also showing the match.

Neville has even designed a special World Cup menu for the restaurant.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some fans watched the Lionesses' last game, a 3-0 win over Norway, while attending the Glastonbury festival

Other fans are planning simpler affairs.

Demi Andrews from Quorn in Leicestershire said she planned to sit in her (hopefully) sun-filled garden and watch the game on her laptop.

Holidaymakers are also working the match into their breaks.

Twitter user Lems said she would watch the game in her hotel in Tunisia; while Andrew Mansell will follow it from a sports bar in Fuengirola, Spain.

Janice Bardwell will be in the TV room of her campsite in Cornwall, the same place where she watched last year's Croatia semi-final.

And some fans have found themselves Stateside for the tie.

Jon Rogers and a small group of English friends will be in a pub in San Diego "surrounded by Americans" and sat with his American wife.

"Come on you Lionesses," he said.

The match kicks-off at 20:00 with live coverage on on BBC One or iPlayer, commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

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