Women and football. What did men have against them? Why did the FA ban the sport for women in 1921? It is true that after World War 1, women’s football became as popular as men’s, but is that a justification for outlawing it? Did those in the FA not know that in eighteenth century Inverness, Scotland, single women played an annual game with their married counterparts? Far from being shunned, it was attended by men in search of a suitable wife. In other words, the qualities of a good wife were found in football!
Thanks to England winning the World Cup in 1966, women’s football made a timid comeback. Yet, it was not until 1971 that the FA lifted the absurd ban that had forced them to play it wherever and whenever they could, enduring the comments that it was unladylike and unnatural for them to do so.
A decade passed before the first Women’s European Championships were held. And ten years later in November 1991 in China, the first Women’s World Cup was played under a cloud of controversey. Firstly, the FIFA did not deem to bestow the title that the tournament deserved, preferring to call it the 1st FIFA’s World Championship For Women’s Football for the M&M’s Cup – a ridiculously long name and obviously sponsored by Mars, the chocolate company.
The host country, China, was bidding to hold the Olympic Games and assured impressive turnouts by inviting factory workers to attend the matches. Fortunately, since that first World Cup, not only has the name changed, but a number of other relevant improvements have been made. In 1991, the matches lasted eighty minutes and there were only twelve teams and twenty-six matches. In this eighth edition hosted in France, the tickets for the opening and closing matches were sold out within forty-eight hours. From the 7th June to the 7th July, the world will be able to watch twenty-four fabulous, female teams, broken into six groups, playing stunning football.
Female football is no longer considered to be unladylike or unnatural.