Euro 2022: long banned, English women’s football takes revenge

The English Football Association ruled in 1921 that “the practice of football is totally indecent for women and should not be encouraged”.

On this day, “the FA effectively prohibits all affiliated clubs from lending their lands to women’s teams or providing them with technical or human assistance”, specifies Laurent Grün, teacher at the University of Lorraine, in his forum “100 years ago English women became football”. deprived”, published in Publication.“So the ‘ban’ is a sign of spectacular ostracism that hits footballers hard. Even if the practice is experiencing a considerable boom in this country,” adds the historian. In fact, the England women’s team was one of the oldest teams in the history of women’s football.

Read our article (again) ► “Women”: When women started playing football

50 years of exile

It was only fifty years later that the English national association decided to reconsider its decision. She even apologized in 2008. But the blow was hard, turning women’s football into a confidential and neglected practice.

When I made my debut at the highest level in 2001. (…) Everything was done by volunteers working for the love and enjoyment of this sport.
Karen Carney, former England international, consultant

“When I made my debut at the highest level in 2001 at the age of 14 (…), we only trained once a week and had a game on Sunday. Everything was made by volunteers who worked on the sport for love and pleasure”former England international Karen Carney recalls in a forum the Guardian, last September. “Two decades later, all teams are professional, with players who are well paid and supported by strong staff.”she adds, highlighting the huge strides that have been made in recent years thanks to a proactive policy by the FA.

[Karen Carney, deuxième en partant de la gauche, est une des consultantes les plus célèbres du championnat anglais de foot féminin]

A real boom

“The English FA started making teams semi-professional around the 2010s”recalls Sylvain Jamet of the specialist website footofeminin.com, who has lived in England for twenty years.

The 12-team league turned professional in 2018 and boomed with the arrival of Barclays Bank as main sponsor in 2019, followed by a new transfer deal in 2021, bringing around €23m a year to English women’s football.

This new agreement “given women’s football the media treatment it needed”notes Sylvain Jamet, with “At least two or three matches exposed every day”while the federation puts all the games online for free on its application.

Insurer Vitality named her in the Women’s FA Cup for an undisclosed fee, but was described as “the most lucrative in its history” through the national media.

The written press has also jumped on the bandwagon. “Three years ago, no national newspaper came to broadcast the league games. While Arsenal or Chelsea now have the Times, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the BBC, the Telegraph every time.”remarks the journalist.

The national championship, which began in 2011, has enjoyed the most media coverage since its inaugural season. And viewer promises for this new season have increased exponentially by 300%, according to experts. Figures attracting increasing sponsorship around the UK women’s football league.

“Brands increasingly see women’s sport and its audience as a lever to achieve their commercial goals”explained Kelly Simmons, Head of Women’s Professional Football at the English Association (FA).

The first beneficiaries of this transformation are, of course, the players. “I came to Arsenal five years ago and at that time the league wasn’t very professional. The progress that has been made, particularly over the last year, has been very important.”confirms the star striker of the Netherlands, Vivianne Miedema (the Dutch footballer is an activist who fights for equal pay between players and players, editor’s note).

We have three gyms, one indoor plastic field. It’s England what!
Kenza Dali, France player at Euro 2022

“We have two assistants, a mental coach (…), two physiotherapists, a masseur, a doctor. The staff are a bit larger (than in France) and then we are in a huge center in terms of infrastructure. We have three Gyms, an indoor artificial pitch. It’s England, huh!”welcomes Frenchman Kenza Dali, passed by West Ham and Everton, who is part of this Euro’s French selection.

Stars, but still modest budgets

Like their male counterparts, English clubs are now attracting the biggest stars, with Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr playing at Chelsea, for example, three outgoing champions.

the Guardian announced last March that the English FA would increase the prize money for the Women’s Cup eightfold, from £309,000 (€370,000) to £2.5m (€3m). As a reminder, the 735 clubs involved in the Men’s Cup share £15.9m (€19m).

Liverpool have not been known for looking after their women or treating them fantastically in recent years.
Jürgen Klopp, ex-soccer player, coach

Even if the investments for the big clubs remain minimal – Chelsea have a budget of around 7 million euros, Manchester City or Arsenal less – women’s football is an image bearer in its own right. When Chelsea changed hands in the spring, the takeover candidates had to pledge further investments in the women’s team, and when Liverpool secured a return to the top flight in April, Jurgen Klopp praised them and even tackled his direction. “Liverpool haven’t been known for looking after their women or treating them fantastically in recent years. They didn’t go into the Championship (D2) for nothing. They have to capitalize on this situation.”he had slipped into a press conference.

Premier League stadiums are opening up more and more to women’s games. Newcastle, but in D4, drew more than 22,000 spectators to Saint-James’ Park last May.

2022: Revenge for The Lionesses?

The 13th edition of the European Women’s Football Championship 2022 or UEFA Women’s Euro will take place from Wednesday 6th July to Sunday 31st July 2022. In the opening game, the English will meet the Austrians at Old Trafford, home of the prestigious Manchester side. The final will be played at the legendary Wembley Stadium in November 2019, a stadium they almost filled in the friendly against Germany.

The Lionesses are hoping to ride that wave and win a first title after losing three straight games in the semifinals of major competitions. We’re betting that this time around, regardless of the result, the FA will refrain from similar comments as they did after the 2015 edition: United after winning a bronze medal against the Germans (1-0).

“Today our lionesses are on the verge of being mothers, mates and daughters again, but they have earned a different title: heroine,” read the post, which caused a huge web outcry. Among the many comments, some tweeters wondered if their male counterparts were ever called “fathers, partners and sons”? In light of the poor response, the association eventually withdrew its tweet…


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