Date: 11th July 2019 at 10:02am
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The World Cup!

No, not that one, silly. The other one.

Back in August last year I submitted an article ‘Will Mrs Kane Ever Play For Spurs’? In other words, could women ever compete with men in football. I make no apologies for continuing with that theme. It was written just after the ‘Tournament Of Nations’ last year. I believe many comments on that thread indicated a degree of denial in terms of how competitive the female side of football could be and brought out the historically conditioned responses and attitudes toward women that have prevailed in the past.

If anyone has been watching the WWC they would have some idea of what I was implying in that article. Women’s football is growing and improving at a rapid rate.

The quarter-final between USA and France was about as entertaining as a football match could be. It was expected to be a good game between two very good teams …. and so it turned out. It was initially hoped that both teams would meet in the final instead of an earlier round. But fate intervened when the draw was made. The standard of football was excellent in terms of skill, tactics, stamina, and commitment. It was quite a spectacle. The semi-final between USA and England was also a spectacle to behold. And there were many other excellent games.

Now, in the previous article, many comments concerning the ability of women to play football focused on their perceived lack of attributes when compared to men …. speed, strength, skills, etc. But these comments failed to take in some very telling aspects of historic factors when comparing the ability of both genders:

Throughout history, until very recent times, women have been treated as second-class-citizens in virtually all aspects of life apart from childbirth. They were simply dismissed out of hand when it came to competing with men …. in anything. They were never allowed the resources to realise their aspirations in any particular chosen field of endeavour.

In terms of football, women lacked financial support and all of the specific training requirements and support that their male counterparts have enjoyed … and their progress has been substantially restricted because of it. The financial imbalance, which underlines everything to do with progress, is being corrected as half of the planet’s population demands greater equality, treatment, and respect. Many top football clubs (including Spurs) now have a women’s team. That has to be a huge step forward for women’s football in general. There is a long way to go but the elite female athletes of today (and there are obviously substantially fewer than males) are beginning to show what they are capable of. France v USA was an example.

All of the attributes that we enjoy in the men’s game were also evident in this World Cup …. speed, strength, skill, tactics, flare, passing, movement, and some glorious goals. It was all there.

The fact is, as I previously suggested, that in football’s evolution process women have only just begun to develop because, suddenly, they have been given the opportunity to do so. And this is just the start! The evolution process appears to know few boundaries and has no favourites.

My question to those who watched any of the games is … what did you think?

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50 Replies to “The World Cup. No, not that one, the other one!”

  • I have for some time been off the belief that football is on a gradual path towards “open” competition. Alongside the quite marked improvement in the standard of the women’s game we have also seen a sanitization of the men’s game with physicality, and tackling, being refereed out of the game to the point where female players could well be integrated without much risk of physical injury. The mix of the spectators has changed from the traditional “working man’s” Saturday afternoon religion to the modern all seated mixed audience, so I suppose unfortunately the activity on the pitch will be changed to better reflect the mix of the spectators. Whether these changes are good or bad is a matter of opinion as it means a seismic shift in one of the bastions of British working class folklore. I am very glad to have been around for many years from childhood until old age to enjoy the game in the “man’s game” context, and the physical competition that was professional football.

  • Frank….how very diplomatic of you in your post, lol!

    I will not give my opinion as I am a dinosaur! thus will be called sexist in this day and age, read what you will into that. COYS

  • Frank …. You make a very good point in that the modern game has become easier for females to participate. Can you imagine Dave Mackay slide-tackling a women back in the day. Even Dave’s male opponents couldn’t handle that back then!

  • Tottenham women should make a statement, like Poch did with Ndombele. Sign Toni Duggan, she’s leaving Barca. Great that we are playing Arsenal at The Lane, as I still insist on calling it.

  • Like you I watched quite a few of the WC games Geof but also watched a number of WSL games live during the past season. I have to say, the standard of play at the highest level of the womens game is improving in leaps and bounds. I don’t think there was ever any doubt that the USA would win the tournament, their high press and enegy levels were equal to many top male sides and would probably have given Liverpool a run for their money in this respect.

    It seems a bit odd that ‘soccer’ has come quite late to America, or at least the mens game, probably due to the popularity of baseball, NFL, and basketball. These being predominently male dominated is possibly the reason why womens association football/soccer established itself at a high level there before it really did in the UK. This probably explains why they are currently ahead of us, at least for now.

    I’m not of the same mind as Frank, I don’t think we will see mixed teams at the highest level for some considerable time, if ever, I think it will remain as seperate genders in the same way that athletics and other sports do. Unlike PY, I’m no dinosaur despite being of advanced years! :- )

    I am loving the fact that our womens side is now in the WSL and will take every opportunity to watch and support them as I would the mens side. I really hope that in the very near future we will see the same level of importance given to both and who knows, we could see our women making the CL final in the coming few years!

  • Our squad has undergone major changes over the close season due to the requirement of becoming fully professional to compete in the WSL. We have signed a number of players who have experience in this league and Toni Duggan would be a good addition, even if it’s just for a season or two. Having watched a good many matches during the WC there were some seriously good players on show who currently play in lesser leagues around the world.

  • Redefining the English language ? taking part in a separate competition is not competing with anyone. To do that you would have to be in the same competition.

  • TQ2 …. It looks like women have done more to promote football in the US than the men ever have. I thought the same as you …. that the US team would win the WC. If not, I thought it would be France. I was disappointed that the Aussie team didn’t progress further than they did (Sam Kerr is obviously my favourite player). England have a very competitive team, too.

    I can’t see mixed teams on the horizon, but there doesn’t need to be one. This world cup has proved that women can provide skillful, entertaining football in their own right. I’ve no doubt that Women’s football will continue to attract more and more spectators as the entertainment value increases. The profile of the game is sky-rocketing.

    It will be interesting to see how our Spurs women go. I would hope we are all behind any player who wears a cockerel on their shirt.

  • jod …. Again … the key word is ‘evolution’. First women have to evolve to the point where they can compete naturally. That, to me, is what is happening. In the English language you can also ‘compete’ for the audience, the resources, and the opportunity. That is also what is happening.

  • As a womens football fan, I have been watching their games for 2 years now. The players have definitely improved quality. Ellen White England no.18 is as good a striker in any mens lower league team. Spurs ladies have also been improving, and Toni Duggan will be a great signing. I will be watching our ladies, or women team this season, with great interest as to their progress. COYSW

  • Geof… Now you can give the OZ cricket fans a good old “pommie” bashing verbals.. 🙂

  • block…..lets hope we can give the Kiwis the verbals as well on Sunday! What a day of sport that is going to be, British F1 GP, cricket world cup final, and Wimbledon mens final all live on free to view TV!

  • Geofspurs – So nothing to do with sport then, more like professional wrestling. I remember a US TV boss once making the comment that Americans would watch anything as long as the US was winning. That’s pretty much what you are talking about. Sport on the other hand is about genuine competition.

  • Women were playing organised, pro/semi-pro football in the UK, over one hundred years ago.

    It was so popular with spectators of the game that women’s football teams could often attract as many supporters into the grounds as the men’s teams did. And sometimes more. For example; On Xmas day, 1917 in Preston, a recorded crowd of 10,000 watched a match between two women’s teams.

    (By the 1920’s there were around at least 150 recognised ladies teams in the UK.)

    During the 1st WW many women of course took to work in the jobs that men left behind when going off to fight. Most of the work they did was of a highly physical nature and in the field of engineering and especially for munitions companies, in their factories. And as with the men before them a lot of ladies football teams were born at these factories simply because it was a popular sport for the women to play in their lunch breaks and spare time.

    One of the most well known of these teams at that time was Dick Kerr’s Ladies. And on Boxing Day, 1920, playing St Helen’s Ladies, they had a crowd attendance of no less than 53,000 at Everton’s Goodison Park ground. It was reported that at least a further 14.000 were locked outside, unable to gain entry…

    What happened next?

    Well, the following year (1921), those grumpy old men in grey suits at the FA, decided to ban the women from the game. And they were then forbidden to play at FA affiliated grounds. Meaning stadiums of pro mens clubs that held spectators.

    So the evolution (as you have called it Geof) of the women’s game was halted in it’s tracks right there and then. It took a full 50 years for the FA to lift that ban in 1971. The Women’s Football Association had been  formed a couple of years before the ban was lifted.

    Just before this lift of the ban, in the summer of 71, an unofficial Women’s World Cup tournament was held in Mexico. And it was even more popular there than the official one just held in France.

    Only 6 qualifying teams played in the finals; Mexico, Argentina, Denmark, France, England and Italy. Some of the matches including England v Mexico had estimated crowds of 80,000 in attendance. The final was Mexico v Denmark. The estimated crowd for this was 110,000! (That’s approximately twice the capacity for the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium).

    By the way the England squad featured girls in it as young as 13,14 and 15. And when they returned home from Mexico, they were quite simply ignored by the media and even those that knew them. As if it hadn’t happened… Shame…

    The FA had banned the women in 1921 stating that they deemed the game as “unsuitable” for the ‘fairer’ sex. And this followed suit over the following years in many countries around the world. With association after association putting up their own bans for the ladies, over time.

    But today and because of my understanding of the early history of the game in England and elsewhere, going back to the formation of the FA in 1863, and then the Women’s game following on at a fair rate of popularity not long after the mens game took hold of the hearts of many; and right up to it’s rise and current worldwide standing; I believe that if it were not from the enforced bans from all those FA’s run by stale old chauvinistic male twats in suits, that the women’ game would be right up there, right now with the mens game and, in every conceivable way.

    But to put aside all this and to see it afresh then there is much to be positive and encouraged by as the women’s and girls game now is. It can only get better. In a way, It is like the dawning of the old game as a fresh and exciting new experience. Not just for the female of the species but also for us men and boys too.

    Women’s football? It’s football played by women. And football is football, is football! Whoever is kicking the damn ball…. Simple.

    Get over it already those of you fellas that don’t like it. It’s 2019 for goodness sake. 100 years after the end of the 1st World War. A time when Women looked after our country and homelands (and jobs too), when it was beret of so many of its young boys and men lost to the “Great War”. The women were just as tough, intelligent, resilient and stoic. And they are and will continue to be……. Great!

    We are all in this together. In peacetime as in war. In football as in life..

    Even so, it is just football we’re talking about here, isn’t it? So what the hell has sex and war got to do with it all, I hear you ask?! Nothing and everything! HaHa!

    That’s all.

  • Cheers Geof. A lot of that I was already aware of last August but I didn’t bother to post at all in that article you wrote then at the time. I was too frustrated by many of the comments from others seemingly stuck in the stone-age…

    The info about the Mexico WC I found out about on the TV just before this last WC. The team was reunited after all these years. The thing that stunned them all when they were in Mexico was that they were treated like VIP’s the minute they landed there. They were every bit the football star in Mexico as any men’s team would be today. Unfortunately, as I wrote before, they were ignored when they returned to England… They were themselves very humble about it and barely ever mentioned their experience to anyone since then. But sadly a lot of that had to do with a) folks just possibly not believing them or b) taking the piss…

    What you have pointed out about the USA team and also about the financial support that is needed to lift the worlds game in general, is very telling. Soccer in the USA came much later than anywhere else that is well known for its football (both male and female). But it was as far back as the 1970’s when the universities and authorities in USA sports, made a formal choice to give women equal funding and training opportunities as to the men in sport.

    And so it’s no wonder that they are currently head and shoulders above most other nations with their standing in the women’s game.

  • HT….thanks for that epilogue of info, well written, though a lot of us new that history already, you say “Get over it already those of you fellas that don’t like it. It’s 2019 for goodness sake” so! I ask you why should I/we? and don’t we have a choice then? me I just do not like Women’s football, simple as that, though I do agree whole heartedly with your thoughts regards the women’s attributes in our history, that can never be denied. COYS

  • Thanks again, HT. It’s going to be interesting to see how the global game develops for women and how the PL teams go. If it leads to more of the kind of football played by USA, France, England, Netherlands, Australia, etc, it will be very entertaining to watch.

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