Lionesses secure football’s return to Team GB for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Football isn't quite yet coming home but Megan Rapinoe's double for the USA has secured Team GB a place at next year's Olympic Games.

Last October, the home nations, with the agreement of FIFA, world football’s governing body, agreed that England would be nominated to try and claim one of three European qualifying places available at the Women’s World Cup.

And the USA’s battling 2-1 victory over hosts France in Paris meant that semi-final progress – secured with Thursday's 3-0 victory over Norway – would be enough for England to book a spot in Tokyo.

Team GB made their debut in the women’s football competition at London 2012, when they qualified automatically as hosts.

But three group wins over Brazil, Cameroon and New Zealand were followed by a 2-0 defeat to Canada, the eventual bronze medallists, in the quarter-finals in Coventry.

“It’s wonderful news for women’s football that we’ll be in Tokyo,” said Alex Scott, a member of the Team GB squad at London 2012.

“From me growing up you dreamed of playing in the World Cup and European Championships but being part of an Olympic team, a team within a team, was such a magical experience at London 2012.”

Lionesses manager Phil Neville and his team’s focus will now be on reaching a first Women’s World Cup final, when his side take on three-time champions the USA in Lyon next Tuesday.

But he knows this could just be beginning of the journey for his team, who have captured the imagination of the public with their performances in France.

He said: "We had a camp last year and we set out the objectives for the next 12 months, all I wanted them to say was 'win the World Cup’.

"But they were thinking bigger than winning a World Cup and that knocked me in my stride a little bit.

"We're now at the point where we are inspiring, where people are jumping on board and it just feels really good.

"We want to have a name that people around the world can relate to, badass women. That is our mantra."

Sportsbeat 2019