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UEFA Women's Championship

Gunnarsdottir furious that Iceland women have to play Euro 2022 matches at Man City's academy stadium that holds just 7,000 fans

10:10 BST 19/04/2022
Man City academy stadium Sara Gunnarsdottir Iceland
The midfielder is "disappointed" that a large number of supporters will be unable to watch their country play in the group stage of the tournament

Sara Gunnarsdottir has expressed her fury over the fact that Iceland women will have to play Euro 2022 matches at Manchester City's academy stadium - which holds just 7,000 fans.

The women's European Championship is now just a few months away from kicking off, with England set to stage the tournament for only the second time in their history.

UEFA has confirmed that matches will take place in 10 different stadiums across nine cities, the smallest of which will be the Etihad Academy Stadium, where two of Iceland's group stage fixtures have already sold out.

What has Gunnarsdottir said?

Gunnarsdottir, who plays her club football with Lyon, believes the inclusion of such a small venue is "disrespectful" towards the women's game.

"I am disappointed with the arenas we have been given. It's shocking - we play a tournament in England with several large arenas, and we get to play at a training facility that takes around 5,000 spectators," the midfielder said on Fotbollskanalen's Their Pitch podcast.

"It's just embarrassing and it's not the respect we deserve. They haven’t prepared for the fact that we can sell more than 4000, it is disrespectful to women's football.

"Women's football takes two steps in the right direction, but then things like this happen and then you take a step back. But matches will be played in larger arenas that I'm sure will sell out.

"Women's football explodes and you start to get the respect you deserve. It's getting better - more money is being pumped in now and it's going in the right direction. But there are still things that need to improve."

Who will Iceland play in the group stage?

Iceland have been drawn in Group D at Euro 2022, and will be outsiders to reach the knockout stages as they compete alongside France, Italy and Belgium.

The Etihad Academy Stadium will stage Iceland's opening game against Belgium on July 10 and their second group stage clash with Italy four days later, and Gunnarsdottir is frustrated that so many supporters will miss out on seeing the country make their fourth appearance at the tournament.

Asked why women are still asked to play at training grounds at major tournaments but not men, the Iceland star replied: "I would love to know the answer. You wonder if they even follow women's football because it's common sense. It's just stupid to talk about because it's unreasonable and frustrating. 

"Tickets for the matches have sold out so fast that family members have had a hard time getting tickets to the championship. 

"Twenty thousand would probably have come over from Iceland to watch the matches. But family members are struggling to get tickets because they sold out as soon as they dropped."

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