Los 40 USA
Sign in to commentAPP
spainSPAINchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA

The Women’s Euros out to prove the bigots wrong

During the First World War, a munitions factory in Preston, Dick, Kerr and Company, run almost exclusively by women (as the men were fighting in the trenches), created a women’s football team. A novel idea which quickly spread and inspired others to do the same; matches were organised and generated great interest. Once the war was over, women’s football continued to grow in popularity to a point where Goodison Park staged a match between Dick, Kerr’s and St Helens which drew a crowd of 53,000 and brought in gate receipts of 3,115 pounds. The FA (the English Football Association) raised questions about women’s football, felt that it shouldn’t be encouraged and instructed clubs not to grant the use of their stadiums for women’s games.

It was only in 1978, over half a century later, that the FA took women’s football under their wing. In 2008, they released an official apology, recognising that the attitude of their predecessors was discriminatory and obstructive. Here in Spain, women’s football took even longer to get off the ground and the attitude of those in charge was equally as shameful. “It’s not football and it’s not feminine,” was a common opinion up until quite recently. In its formative years, Spanish women’s football was trivialised with a game between well known folkloric Copla signers and film actresses, the stars of slapstick cinema, and a film entitled Ibéricas FC - shocking in every sense. The president of Spain’s Football Federation, [José Luis] Pérez Payá went as far as stating that football kits were not suitable for women as they were unflattering for their silhouette...

We have come a long way since then, but there is still some way to go. I know many fans who have watched the odd women’s match out of curiosity but gave up on it after a few minutes. Fair enough, but this year’s Euros is a good moment for them to give it another chance. Women’s football in general, and especially in Spain, has come on leaps and bounds during the past few years. Although sadly this time we won’t be able to watch the current Ballon d’Or holder, Alexia Putellas, but we will be able to watch many great players at the Euros. Classy, entertaining football, with good movement of the ball, keen tactical awareness, eye-catching individual performances played with a fairness and integrity which has long since disappeared from the men’s game.