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Commiserations and praise for the Lionesses

21 August 2023


People watch the women’s World Cup final in Cathedral Square, Worcester, on Sunday

People watch the women’s World Cup final in Cathedral Square, Worcester, on Sunday

THE England team have been congratulated for their determination and for bringing joy to the nation despite losing 1-0 to Spain in the final of the women’s World Cup on Sunday.

The Archbishop of Canterbury offered commiserations on Twitter to the team, who are nicknamed the Lionesses. “We know you gave it everything,” he wrote. “We admire your talent, grit and determination.”

And he added: “Congratulations to Spain, who played with such dedication to the end.”

The Archbishop of York also extended sympathy to the team, but wrote: “They can rightly be proud of all they’ve achieved and in the way they have lifted the hearts of the nation in being the first England world cup finalists since 1966.” He also offered congratulations to Spain.

The Bishop of Lancaster, Dr Jill Duff, said on Sunday afternoon: “While our Lionesses may have lost today, I still feel much pride and joy for what they have achieved these past weeks. To reach the World Cup Final, following their historic win at last year’s Euros [News, 5 August 2022], is an astounding achievement in itself.

“Growing up in Bolton, my school didn’t allow girls to play football — a common approach in the 1980s. My heart sings to see our women’s football team reaching the World Cup Final after 57 years. With their courage, dedication, and determination they are rightly called the lionesses. With their coach, they are excellent role models for all of us.”

Since the match kicked off at 11 a.m. UK time, many churches were faced with a dilemma whether to move service times. The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Philip North, cautioned against this last Friday, saying: “I think stability around service times is very important: in growing a church, people need to know when church is on.”

The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Libby Lane, who is the C of E’s spokesperson on sport, had said, however, that it was “fine from the Church of England’s point of view” for people to watch the match live. “Others will prefer to go to church and avoid knowing the score until they can watch the match on catch-up, and that is fine, too.”

ST LUKE’S, BOURNEMOUTHThe match is screened in St Luke’s, Bournemouth

St Luke’s, Winton, in Bournemouth, was among churches that brought their service times forward: its parish eucharist was held at the earlier time of 10 a.m., and worshippers were able to watch the match on a large screen in the church afterwards.

The day before the final, the Vicar of St Luke’s, Canon Michael Smith, told the Daily Echo: “If we didn’t show this, then we’d be missing out on something. It’s a big event — it’s the World Cup final, so we want to get into the spirit of it. . .

“For some people, its slightly less intimidating than going to the pub to watch it. We’re providing a family-friendly space for people to watch the game.”

While the match was taking place, the King and Queen worshipped at Crathie Kirk, near Balmoral. After the match, the King said in a message to the Lionesses: “While I know how sore it must be, let none of you feel defeated, for to have reached the final at all is an immense tribute to your skill, determination and team spirit in the finest sporting tradition. More than that, though, it will serve as an inspiration for generations to come — and, for that, your place in the history books is assured.”

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