July 3, 2019 / 12:37 PM / in 17 days

Almost 12 million in UK watch England's women lose to U.S.

Jul 2, 2019; Lyon, FRANCE; United States forward Carli Lloyd (10) heads the ball against England defender Steph Houghton (5) in the second half during semi-final play in the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 soccer tournament at Stade de Lyon. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

LONDON (Reuters) - Almost 12 million people tuned in to watch England’s 2-1 defeat by the United States in the women’s World Cup semi-final on Tuesday, making it the most watched television program of the year so far in Britain.

The progress of the Lionesses through the tournament in France has drawn huge attention in Britain, where coverage of the team has been high on the news agenda. The Sun newspaper said the team had gone down fighting. The Guardian said they had “conquered hearts and minds”.

The 11.7 million peak audience for the game still trails the 26 million who watched the men’s team crash out of the World Cup at the same stage in 2018. However it is well ahead of the 2.4 million who watched the women’s team at the last World Cup.

That semi-final, played in Canada, was broadcast late at night.

Martin Glenn, former head of the Football Association, told the BBC the success of the tournament would provide a huge boost to the women’s game.

“It’s moved from being an interesting Olympic-type sport to an absolute mainstream sport,” he said. “The importance of that is that it adds attraction: it pulls girls and women into playing.”

Reporting by Navdeep Yadav; editing by Stephen Addison

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