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Registered Associate Nutritionist

Registered Associate Nutritionist

World Cup 2022

I love the world cup football, the excitement of your country competing against other countries brings joy and togetherness during a short period of time. What is also unique is that this only happens every four years, so it is kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity really. 

So in honour of the world cup starting today!, I thought I use this post to draw attention to the great moment England Women won the women's Euro 2022. Women's football has been through various challenges, and to get to that point of winning the cup, as demonstrated not to ever give up, and you never know, just one day your dreams might just come true! 

This is a guest post about the journey of England's Women's football, I hope you enjoy it!

In the UK, women’s football has never been afforded the same prestige or attention as the men’s game, as with many other types of women’s sports. It has always been viewed as lesser than, and many have cited it as a political pandering rather than a sport in its own right. However, from being banned in the 1920s to joining FIFA in the 1990s, to England’s fresh win at the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro Championship, the history of women’s football has a turbulent history full of highs and lows. It is important to recognise that this victory has been hard won, on many fronts.


While not quite as historied as their male counterparts, women’s football clubs have been around since the 1890s and rivalled men’s clubs in popularity. Women’s football games were perhaps even more popular than men’s games in the early 1900s, with one match reported to have attracted over 53,000 attendees. However, in 1921 women’s football clubs were banned by the Football Association Council as it was considered too unladylike and damaging to women’s health, a ban which was not repealed until 1971. The politics that surround women’s football stem from within the FA itself. Seeing the popularity of women’s football in the early 1900s and the vast sums of money made as a result, outside of the FA’s economic control, they banned women from using FA-regulated pitches, which as a result instantly shrunk crowd sizes, and brushed aside the sport for 50 years. In 1983, the Women’s Football Association was allowed to affiliate on the same level as county teams, and the Women’s Football Association was adopted into the English Football Association’s administration in 1993, 100 years after the first women’s clubs were established, and more than 70 since women’s participation in professional football was banned. However, just because the FA had accepted women’s professional football on an official level, that didn’t mean that everyone was happy with the decision or believed that women deserved to be able to play professional football.


The short answer to why women’s football has faced such backlash is misogyny. The long answer is much more complicated. Women have been battling to be able to play since the beginning. Even in recent years things have improved massively - FA England players were having to pay subs to play. They had to work additional jobs up until 2009 when they were provided with contracts and pay, although England did not gain a fully professional women’s team until 2018. The women’s league being accepted into the Football Association also did not make it any easier to obtain access to adequate grounds or training facilities, and the gap between them and the men’s leagues are still huge to this day. While interest often begets opportunity, especially in the worlds of advertising and professional sports, it is important to remember that without the opportunities presented to them, women have had to fight to be afforded the opportunities to play to gain interest and supporters as a result. They have been held back from gaining an audience for their matches for years, with critics stating that they do not get advertised because nobody cares, creating a chicken-and-egg scenario. While men’s football has long been upheld as a paragon of unity, women’s has been downtrodden as being too politically divisive, which is ironic because those who vocally oppose its existence are those that deem it political. 


The last 10 years have seen massive resistance to such discourse against the teams, with female football players across the country fighting back and doubling down to prove their worth. While journalistic coverage has been limited and advertorial support nearly non-existent, those such as former England manager Hope Powell championed the game, pushing for recognition. And, as England began to make their way successfully through international women’s competitions, more and more in the sports world began to take note. This was noticeable in 2015 when England came in third behind Canada and Germany in the Women’s World Cup. Suddenly English women’s football was worth taking notice of, especially as they held their own against countries that took their female footballers more seriously and less of an afterthought than those of us on these isles. But now those in English football saw that players didn’t need exorbitant sums of money or aggression to produce a good game - the women’s team were putting their faith in their skills and in each other and producing a truly beautiful game as a result. As a result, a wider fanbase began to steadily grow, while the hard work, determination, and lower aggression than the men’s game saw that fanbase spread across gender and age lines, resulting in a family-friendly audience at Wembley for the 2022 UEFA final on 31st July. With over 80,000 fans crowding the stands to watch them claim victory over Germany, it felt as if the Lionesses were bringing football home in more ways than one. After a hard battle for recognition over the years, English women’s football was perhaps as popular as it had been over 100 years before.


Given the fraught history of women’s professional football in the UK, it is even more exhilarating to see the Lionesses take the Women’s Euro cup for themselves, battling their way through to achieve something that their male counterparts have failed to do in recent memory. Now that they are champions within a success story, many of those who once belittled the team, and the sport, are now cheering ‘It’s coming home’ as loudly as the rest of us. As the government has announced in the weeks since England’s victory that £230m will be put into women’s football to help bring it closer to the men’s game and provide the teams with the resources they need to grow, we can hope that the next generation of girls is able to see #that being a professional footballer is not just a boy’s dream. In bringing football home, the lionesses have solidified their role as a symbol of real equality, possibility, and hope.


Photo by Rhett Lewis on Unsplash