Players from the England women’s football team that became European champions in July were among the sports figures recognised in Britain’s New Year public Honours List published Friday.
Team captain Leah Williamson, who lifted the Women’s Euro trophy after a 2-1 victory over Germany at Wembley, has been made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).
Her team-mates Lucy Bronze, Beth Mead and Ellen White all received an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), which is a level below an OBE on an honours ‘ladder’ designed mainly to recognise the contributions to public life across a variety of fields by British and Commonwealth nationals.
The England women’s team’s Dutch head coach Sarina Wiegman received the higher-ranking CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) on the overseas list.
Mead was the tournament’s top scorer and was voted its best player.
White had been a key figure in England’s attack for more than a decade until her retirement in August, while Barcelona defender Bronze is arguably most highest-profile England women’s footballer, having been voted the best player in the world in 2020.
Britain’s Denise Lewis, the heptathlon champion at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was awarded a damehood, the female equivalent of a knighthood.
The European Championship victory was the first major tournament success for a senior England football team since the men’s side won the 1966 World Cup.
There had been calls for all the England players involved to receive honours.
That approach, however, led to controversy when all the players in the England 2005 men’s Ashes cricket victory received honours, with Paul Collingwood, who made a mere 17 runs in his lone appearance of the series success against Australia, awarded an MBE.
Hugh Robertson, the chairman of the honours sport committee and a former UK sports minister, said: “The approach that we’ve tried to take with this is when we have these events there is a danger in sort of carpet bombing the entire squad because then you get people who’ve done five minutes on the pitch and get an award.”
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