An unprecedented demand for tickets to watch England play the United States at Wembley in October caused the Football Association’s website to crash on Tuesday and fans were held in online queues of more than 45,000 people.
The FA announced at 2pm that England, the newly-crowned European champions, were in line to host the USA, the World Cup, on 7 October. That led to a surge in ticket purchases, with supporters accessing the site facing an estimated wait time of more than an hour. The crashes seemed to happen early in the sprint, but long waits continued for hours.
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It is the latest sign that England’s victory over Germany in front of more than 87,000 fans at Wembley in Sunday’s Euro 2022 final – watched by a peak TV audience of 17.4 million on the BBC – has generated more interest than ever in the team .
England and USA last met in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup in Orlando with goals from Christen Press and Carli Lloyd giving the home team a 2-0 victory. Before that, they met in the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup in France, where the USA won 2-1 and went on to lift the trophy.
The friendly at Wembley is subject to England qualifying next month for the 2023 World Cup, which will be hosted in Australia and New Zealand. They are five points ahead of Austria in Group D and need a point away to Austria on September 3 or a win against Luxembourg at Stoke three days later.
The FA has sold more than 20,000 tickets for the first home game since the win over Germany, with more tickets to be released.
England manager Sarina Wiegman said: “It’s really exciting to get the chance to play the USA at Wembley if we can secure qualification for the World Cup. It would be the perfect game for our squad to face another strong team after so many tough games in the EC.
“It’s good we’re enjoying the moment we’re in after this amazing summer, but we know we still have to work to take the next step forward… It will be great to welcome as many fans as possible so we can say thank you again for your incredible support.”
The US head coach, Vlatko Andonovski, said: “This is exactly the type of game we need at exactly the right time in our World Cup preparations, so we can test ourselves against a very talented team in England. I saw England play live at the European Championship and I’m looking forward to a fantastic atmosphere at Wembley and another great event for women’s football.”
The USA last played at Wembley in the gold medal match at the London 2012 Olympics, when they beat Japan 2-1.
With Euro 2022 fever unabated, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has raised hopes of a bid to host a Women’s World Cup in the near future, with the men’s Euro 2028 bid in focus.
“We would like to have it for the long term, he said. “But if you think we just had a row of games for the men’s European Championship, we only had the women’s European Championship, we’re bidding for the 2028 men’s Euro – that’s where we are.”
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Bullingham said the success of the women’s European Championship had strengthened the FA’s relationship with Uefa. “All the feedback we have received has been fantastic. The tournament has been run very well, we have a phenomenal tournament, they have done everything brilliantly and we have smashed all the targets. So you hope that will put us in a good position to host something else.
“In any case, we have a lot of goodwill in the bank. But the reality is that the whole tournament has gone brilliantly, so it only drives the relationship even closer.”
The impact elsewhere in the UK is evident with Wales experiencing a surge of interest in their Women’s World Cup qualifier at home to Slovenia on September 6. Ticket sales have surpassed the record of 5,455 set against Estonia last October and the Football Association of Wales is aiming for 10,000.