Did you know that 2021 marks 100 years since the FA banned women’s football, for the best part of half a century? The history of women’s football is extremely interesting to look at, in the late 1800s women’s football was surprisingly, hugely popular.
Women’s footballers had their first chance to show their potential in 1920. The Boxing Day fixture at Goodison - which Dick Kerr’s Ladies won 4-0 against St. Helens Ladies - had an attendance of 53,000 people. This event was made possible because the male league program was suspended due to the First World War. Women were playing football to raise money for people affected by the war. Undoubtedly, this fixture made a huge mark in the history books, setting a British record for a women’s football crowd.
In 1921, the Football Association banned women from playing on Football League grounds, something which lasted for a shocking 50 years. The FA said “The Council feel impelled to express their strong opinion that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.”
Women in sport are barrier breakers. A Liga Iberdrola fixture between Atletico de Madrid and Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano welcomed 60,739 spectators. This is the new record in terms of capacity in a women's club football match in history. At national level, the 1991 World Cup final between the United States and China at the Rose Bowl Stadium, had an attendance of 90,185 people, which is still the highest record in a women's soccer game.
Focusing on the English women's league, the Women’s Super League (WSL) was launched in 2011 with eight teams and not without controversy, as 16 teams applied for places. By 2014 it was expanded to include a second tier of 10 teams, the FA Women’s Championship. There is still much to do to achieve equality between men and women, and in football it is no different. Inequality in salary, media coverage, facilities, services, sponsorship, etc. continues to exist in women's football, despite showing that women can compete at the same professional level as men. So why don't they receive the same opportunities? Because the bulk of the cash in football still flows through the men’s game.
Fortunately, small achievements have been made as Lewes FC have confirmed that the salary between their male and female players will be equal. In recent years, some countries, including England, have promised to pay their national sides the same, but for club sides it's generally a different story.
Recently this year, the BBC have agreed a deal to screen Women’s Super League matches next season in a move that could provide major financial support to the sport. WSL games are already shown live in Germany, Italy and the United States under a new deal brokered by the FA in September with NBC Sports and DAZN.
The Women’s football market is growing fast, so women from everywhere are getting more and more opportunities to flourish. A great example is the United States Women’s National Soccer team which is the most successful in international women’s football, winning 4 Women’s World Cup titles, 4 Olympic gold medals and 8 CONCACAF Gold Cups.
At ISM, we believe in equality and we are working hard to expand our client base to female athletes. We are looking into launching our first ever women’s ID event, so keep an eye out!
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