April 2, 2019 / 4:18 AM / 20 days ago

Soccer: Neville urges top clubs to open stadiums for women's games

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Draw - The Seine Musicale, Paris, France - December 8, 2018 England manager Phil Neville poses for photographs ahead of the draw REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

(Reuters) - England women’s coach Phil Neville has called on the country’s biggest clubs to host women’s games at their main stadiums.

Attendance at women’s games in Europe has grown this season, with 60,739 watching Atletico Madrid play Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid earlier this month, a record for a women’s club soccer match.

Juventus Women set a record for a women’s soccer match in Italy when 39,000 supporters attended their first game at the Turin club’s Allianz stadium against Fiorentina on March 24, and Neville said it was time English clubs get in on the act.

“Some of the big teams in England have got to open their stadiums and fill them and let’s blow the rest of Europe away,” Neville told reporters. “Our game is in a far better place than Spain, Italy or Portugal.

“If (second-tier leaders) Manchester United or (top-flight leaders) Arsenal win the league, throw open your stadium. Champions League game for Chelsea - why not play it at Stamford Bridge? Get 30,000 or 40,000.”

England play Canada in a pre-World Cup friendly at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium on Friday, a venue that can seat 7,000, and Neville added that should offer free tickets to supporters to fill bigger venues.

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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