Iceland fans descend on Manchester for the UEFA Women’s Euros

With a population of around 345,700, Iceland may be small, but its football fans are certainly mighty. 

Hundreds of Iceland supporters were in Manchester this weekend for their country’s group stage match against Belgium in the Women’s Euros 2022. 

Iceland fans vastly outnumbered their Belgian counterparts at the fan-zone in Piccadilly Gardens, where Icelandic DJ Dóra Júlía blasted out a selection of Eurovision classics for the fans as they enjoyed the hospitality. 

Fan Addy Olafsdottir said before the match: “There seems to be a lot of blue and white shirts everywhere, so I think we will win at least the attendance.” 

This is the fourth time in a row that Iceland has qualified for the Women’s Euros, however they have only made it past the group stage once before in 2013, when they were beaten 4-0 to Sweden in the Quarter Final. 

Among the blue-shirted Iceland fans was the country’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who was spotted in team colours at the fan-zone and outside.

The hundreds-strong crowd made their way to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium at 3pm, where Jakobsdóttir helped lead a procession across the bridge to the Manchester City Academy Stadium, where the match took place. 

While this stadium is the official home of Manchester City Women’s football club, the venue choice caused some controversy among fans and players.

Speaking to the Their Pitch podcast back in April, Iceland captain Sara Bjork Gunnarsdotti described the decision to use the Academy ground over a bigger stadium as “shocking” and “embarrassing” – a sentiment that was echoed by fans on the day.

“The tickets, at least for the Icelandic portion, went very quickly,” fan Addy Olafsdottir said.

“When it was the last Euros in Holland, we had 6,000 people attending from Iceland. So we need to do a lot better there,” she added. 

When it comes to gender equality in football, Iceland sets a good example for the rest of the world.

Five members of the Icelandic team are mothers – more than any other team in the competition – and women make up 34% of all registered professional players in Iceland. 

It was clear that the Iceland fans were there not only to support their national team, but the women’s game in general, which seems to be going from strength to strength. 

“It’s been growing recently, both in Iceland and the world, and I think women are getting more attention – deserved attention – than before because the quality of the game is equal to the men’s game,” says fan Bjorn Ivar Karlsson.

“They are just really powerful. You don’t see those ‘acting styles’ that the men have. They just keep going, even though they’ve got a bleeding head,” Iceland supporter Sola Ragnars says. 

Inside the stadium, the hordes of fans took part in the famous Viking Clap –  an ancient ritual that involves synchronised clapping and chanting that increases with speed and intensity.

Sadly, the battle cry did not aid the team to victory and the match ended in a 1-1 draw. 

Iceland will play their next group match against Italy in Manchester on July 14.

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