Stuff that matters

An unprecedented demand for tickets to watch England play USA at Wembley in October led to the Football Association’s website crashing on Tuesday and fans being held in queues online of more than 45,000 people. By Wednesday lunchtime, all available general admission tickets were sold out, with just hospitality options still on sale.

The FA announced at 2pm that England, the newly crowned European champions, were in line to host the USA, the World Cup holders, on 7 October. It prompted a surge to buy tickets and supporters able to access the website were given an estimated wait time of more than an hour. The crashes appeared to occur only early in the rush but the long waits continued for hours.

It is the latest signal that England’s win against Germany in front of more than 87,000 fans at Wembley in the Euro 2022 final on Sunday – watched by a peak TV audience of 17.4 million on the BBC – has generated greater interest than ever in the team.

England and USA last met in the SheBelieves Cup in 2020 in Orlando with goals from Christen Press and Carli Lloyd earning the home team a 2-0 victory. Before that they met in the semi-final of the 2019 World Cup in France, with USA winning 2-1 and going on to lift the trophy.

The Wembley friendly is subject to England qualifying next month for the 2023 World Cup which is being held in Australia and New Zealand. They are five points clear of Austria in Group D and need a point away to Austria on 3 September or a win against Luxembourg at Stoke three days later.

The FA has sold more than 20,000 tickets for that first game on home soil since the win against Germany on Sunday, with more tickets to be released.

Sarina Wiegman, the England manager, said: “It is really exciting to have the chance to play the US at Wembley if we can make sure of qualification for the World Cup. It would be the perfect game for our squad to meet another strong team after so many tough games in the Euros.

“It is good we enjoy the moment we are in after this wonderful summer but we know we still have work to do to take the next step forward … it will be great to welcome as many fans as possible so that we can say thanks again for their incredible support.”

The USA head coach, Vlatko Andonovski, said: “This is exactly the kind of match we need at exactly the right time in our World Cup preparations so we can test ourselves against a very talented England team. I saw England play live at the Euros and I’m looking forward to an amazing atmosphere at Wembley and another big event for women’s soccer.”

USA last played at Wembley in the gold medal match of the London 2012 Olympic Games, when they defeated Japan 2-1.

With Euro 2022 fever not calmed down, the FA’s chief executive, Mark Bullingham, quelled hopes of a bid to host a women’s World Cup in the near future, with the bid for the men’s European Championship in 2028 the focus. “We’d love to have it in the long term,” Bullingham said.

“But if you think that we just had a number of games for the men’s Euros, we just had the women’s Euros, we’re bidding for the 2028 men’s Euros – that’s where we’re at.”

Bullingham said the success of the Women’s European Championhip had strengthened FA’s relationship with Uefa. “All the feedback we’ve had has been fantastic. The tournament’s been run really well, we’ve got a phenomenal tournament, they’ve done everything brilliantly and we’ve smashed every target. So you would hope that would put us in good stead for hosting anything else. We have a lot of goodwill in the bank anyway. But the reality is the whole tournament has gone brilliantly so it just drives that relationship even closer.”

The impact elsewhere in the UK is apparent with Wales experiencing a surge of interest for their women’s World Cup qualifier at home against Slovenia on 6 September. Ticket sales have surpassed the record 5,455 crowd set against Estonia last October and the Football Association of Wales is targeting a 10,000 attendance.