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The England women’s team won the European Championship final against Germany 2-1 on Sunday (31 July), in front of a record crowd of 87,000 at Wembley Stadium.
After scoring the deciding goal during extra time, a delighted Kelly was seen tearing off her number 18 jersey and spinning it over her head as she ran across the pitch.
The celebration sparked joy across the country and quickly went viral as a “hugely significant” representation of the progress made in women’s football.
“This image of a woman shirtless in a sports bra – hugely significant. This is a woman’s body – not for sex or show – just for the sheer joy of what she can do and the power and skill she has. Wonderful,” said one tweet, which has been liked more than 100,000 times.
Another wrote: “Chloe Kelly is such a vibe. The way these girls have just busted so many stereotypes, gained respect for women’s football and had ‘lads, lads, lads’ all over the country GLUED to the final, cheering them on. Times are changing and my god I am here for it.”
My sister has just sent me a photo of my nieces, one's 9 and the other's 6, celebrating Chloe Kelly's goal. That's what it's all about, inspiring the next generation of players & fans to go and kick a ball or watch a match. This tournament's legacy should be one of opportunities.
— Jonny Sharples (@JonnyGabriel) July 31, 2022
“My sister has just sent me a photo of my nieces, one’s nine and the other’s six, celebrating Chloe Kelly‘s goal. That’s what it’s all about, inspiring the next generation of players and fans to go and kick a ball or watch a match. This tournament’s legacy should be one of opportunities,” one Twitter user wrote.
Chloe Kelly is such a vibe. The way these girls have just busted so many stereotypes, gained respect for women’s football and had ‘lads, lads, lads’ all over the country GLUED to the final, cheering them on. Times are changing and my god I am here for it pic.twitter.com/S1wqQ1Bmsj
— Sophie Barley (@SophieBarley) August 1, 2022
Some people compared Kelly’s celebration to that of US football player Brandi Chastain at the 1999 World Cup.
“This photo of Chloe Kelly celebrating her goal that handed England their first ever European title is as iconic as Brandi Chastain’s celebration in a sports bra at the 1999 World Cup in the USA,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“Chloe Kelly celebrating like it’s 1999 hit me in the feels. Women’s soccer has come a long way,” another person said.
Chastain herself weighed in on the similarities, writing in a tweet to Kelly: “I see you.”
Congratulating Kelly on the win, she added: “Well done. Enjoy the free rounds of pints and dinners for the rest of your life from all of England. Cheers!”
Women’s football matgches first gained traction in the UK in 1920, with one match garnering a crowed of more than 50,000 people.
However, women’s football was halted in 1921, with the Football Association stating that “the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and out not to be encouraged”.
Some critics have proposed women’s football was halted due to its popularity, with some matches attracting larger crowds than men’s football. The ban was lifted in 1970.