Another step towards equality in football
In December 1921, the FA banned women from playing and using football league pitches and facilities.
‘Complaints having been made as to football being played by women, Council feel impelled to express their strong opinion that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and should not be encouraged.’
This perceived football’s unsuitability for women’s bodies persisted in recent press coverage. For example, a doctor interviewed in the Birmingham Daily Gazette considered kicking to be ‘too jerky a movement for women’, concluding that ‘… just as the frame of a woman is more rounded than a man’s, her movements should be more rounded and less angular’.
The ban had a devastating effect. League football clubs barred female players from their pitches, and registered referees were banned from officiating at women’s matches. Unsurprisingly, the lack of adequate facilities made the sport unsustainable, effectively destroying the credibility the women’s game had built up. There were attempts to rally and continue as before, but the death blow had been struck.
1971: The FA Council lifted the ban, which forbade women from playing on the grounds of affiliated clubs. The damage to the women’s game was generational and would take decades to rebuild and repoduce. It took until 2018 for women to have a professional football league again.
Fast forward to 2022, and the England women’s team has just won the European championship in front of a packed-out stadium at Wembley.
A crowd filled with families all singing and having a great time with supporters from both nations together is what you want to see from sports and sportsmanship.
Well done to the England Women’s team