Women's World Cup 2015: England success a 'tipping point'

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport in Edmonton
England duo Jodie Taylor (left) and Jill Scott
Jodie Taylor (left) and Jill Scott have been in impressive form
Women's World Cup on the BBC
Dates: 6 June - 5 July. Coverage: Every match live on the BBC. All games online with selected matches on BBC Two, BBC Three and Red Button. Catch-up via BBC iPlayer. Every England game on BBC Radio 5 live. Live text commentary of every England game via BBC Sport website.

England reaching their first Women's World Cup semi-final is a "tipping point" for women's football, says the Football Association's Kelly Simmons.

Their last-eight win over hosts Canada was watched by 1.6 million TV viewers, despite a 00:30 BST kick-off, and they now face reigning champions Japan.

"It feels like the nation has fallen in love with the Lionesses," Simmons said.

But the FA director of women's football does not think it will lead to a Great Britain side at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

'Everyone is really proud'

England's opener against France drew a peak of 2.6 million viewers, with subsequent matches against Mexico watched by 1.9 million, Colombia 2.3 million and Norway two million.

Former and current England captains David Beckham and Wayne Rooney have been among those congratulating the team.

David Beckham
Former England captain David Beckham sent this message

"It's a tipping point as many millions have got behind them," Simmons told BBC Sport.

"Everyone is really proud of the England women's team, awareness levels have never been higher surrounding the quality of women's football and all the work that has gone into helping them get where they are now - which is competing at the very top.

"Hopefully that will translate into people getting behind those players when they play for their clubs in the Women's Super League and the European Championship qualifiers."

Simmons also hopes that England becoming the first senior side to reach a World Cup semi-final since 1990 would boost ticket sales for the first FA Women's Cup final to be held at Wembley.

The game on 1 August between Chelsea and Notts County has sold 10,000 tickets already with the FA hoping to reach a target of 30,000.

Mark Sampson's squad are only the third England team to reach a last-four spot after the men's team at the 1990 World Cup and the 1966 World Cup-winning side.

'Devastating for the women's game'

By finishing as one of the best three European teams at the World Cup, England have achieved the standard needed to send a Great Britain side to play in the Olympics next year.

But Simmons said it is unlikely England's success will persuade the other home nations' football associations, who fear sending a team to Brazil would threaten their independence in the international game, to change their minds.

The Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh FAs agreed to enter a Team GB side at London 2012 as a one-off.

"It's devastating for the women's game but I don't think there is any way back," said Simmons.

"It's a real shame not only for the players who have worked so hard to get to the semi-finals, but also for women's football.

"Those sorts of opportunities for coverage and profile don't come around that often."

England keeper Siobhan Chamberlain
Siobhan Chamberlain came on after 52 minutes against Canada

England keeper Siobhan Chamberlain came on as a second-half substitute against Japan and is hoping the team's success continues to attract more fans to the game.

"The reaction has been amazing. There have been so many people reaching out and so many watching the game that haven't normally watched it," she said.

"If we can inspire others to love women's football then that's fantastic. If we can get to that final then who knows what can happen."