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Women's game deserves better

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Jacqui Oatley | 17:00 UK time, Wednesday, 22 April 2009

How fantastic to see England superstar Kelly Smith proving every week that she's one of the very best talents in the world.

The former Arsenal playmaker is taking the new United States professional women's league - the WPS - by storm, having scored three goals in her opening three games for the Boston Breakers, picking up a WPS Player of the Week award along the way.

Smith is joined in the new league by fellow England team-mates Alex Scott (also at Boston Breakers), Eni Aluko (St Louis Athletica), Anita Asante (Sky Blue) and Karen Carney (Chicago Red Stars).

Excellent experience for these players to test themselves against the best, but what have they left behind? The answer: a great deal of disillusionment.

Kelly Smith and Alex Scott are now playing in the US

While the WPS league was starting with a flourish, the Football Association in England was deciding to postpone its new women's Super League.

And how do you think this news has gone down with players, clubs, administrators and coaches? Having spoken to a range of them, I can assure you it's hit them like a ton of bricks. They're also deeply unhappy that they only found out via a newspaper report and hadn't been told directly. FA chairman Lord Triesman has since written to the clubs to apologise for the leak.

Tears have been shed by people who have worked tirelessly to try to make it happen. These are the same people who have been grafting for years to try to drag the women's game up to the standard of the Scandinavian countries and Germany.

One top player told me she's now regretting her decision not to pursue a professional career in the US in favour of remaining loyal to the supposedly exciting new game at home. Some England players are feeling demoralised and let down just four months before Euro 2009 in Finland.

The Super League is only one part of a four-year strategy to develop the girls' and women's game. The rest of the proposals, I'm told, are still going ahead as planned.

The idea was to have a semi-professional league of eight teams (initially) played in the summer with better playing surfaces and facilities, desperately-needed television exposure, with clubs receiving up to £70,000 each per season to help them become self-financing, rather than be dependent on their male counterparts. Look no further than Charlton as an example of the perils of relying on a men's team. The aim was to make the league more competitive, raise the profile of the game in England, encourage young fans to watch their idols and to prevent top players from wanting to play abroad.

It's certainly too late for that.

The first few words of the promotional publication for the strategy states in capital letters that "the FA must take the lead role in developing the women's and girls' game". Yet, the feeling is that women's game is the lowest hanging fruit and the first to be picked off the tree when cuts are made. Further down, the document reads "To be trusted to lead, we must: Lead with confidence to deliver the strategy". It seems that some in the game have had their confidence shaken.

Clubs are generally run by volunteers who had spent a great deal of time putting together their application to join the summer league. Three weeks before they were due to hand in their completed applications, they discovered, via a newspaper report, that all that time and money had been wasted.

The FA's public statement on the matter, which followed the leak, said that the league would be deferred until the summer of 2011 "as a prudent measure in the current global financial downturn to ensure that we are able to use our financial resources in the most appropriate and meaningful way".

A spokesman told me that the FA is not picking on women's football and that this project is just one of several to be put back due to the "current financial climate". The National Football Centre at Burton reportedly being one of the others. Lord Triesman also stated in his letter to the clubs that the move was "caused by financial difficulties in companies with which we trade".

So the FA may not be singling out women's football for cutbacks, yet many feel the game simply can't afford another setback in its development. It has already suffered greatly due to a lack of investment over the years and many believe that this long overdue project should have been ring-fenced, with savings found elsewhere.

"I personally believe it's been shelved indefinitely," says Vic Akers, legendary manager of Arsenal Ladies who's won 30 major trophies in his 22 years at the club (it will be 31 trophies if they beat Sunderland in the FA Women's Cup final on 4 May). "It's sad that the girls' game always seems to take the mallet over the head. We've already lost five national players to the United States, including the iconic Kelly Smith. We'll lose more, and that can't be good for the game in England."

Casey Stoney, England defender and manager of Chelsea, is equally aggrieved. "We're struggling for survival," she says. "We had a plan for the financial year, now it's changed. Clubs need to know where they stand. We take two steps forward and five steps back."

Sue Smith has been hit hard by the decision

Sue Smith, Leeds Carnegie and England winger, adds: "I'm gutted. Everything was set in place. We were excited about having the Super League to look forward to after we got back from Euro 2009. But not any more. We feel deflated".

The feeling amongst those I've spoken to is that the deferment of the Super League will hamper the growth of a sport so desperately needing a shot in the arm from the powers that be. The women's game is still trying to catch up on its development after it was effectively banned for 50 years until 1971.

The vibes are not all negative, though. Twenty England players are being awarded one-year contracts worth £16,000 each to enable them to cut down on their working hours so they can concentrate on their fitness. A major help to those who were getting run-down and ill due to working so many hours before and after training sessions. This should help avoid a repeat of the problems the players had at the World Cup in 2007, when their £40 a day pay left many struggling to make ends meet.

There are some extremely hard working, passionate people working on women's football at Soho Square and a set of highly professional, yet part-time, players who give their all for their country. They feel as though they've been let down again.


  • 1. At 10:06pm on 22 Apr 2009, Imagine Reason wrote:

    This is terrible news. There's no silver lining here.

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  • 2. At 10:28pm on 22 Apr 2009, Haruki wrote:

    its unfortunate..there's not a lot of respect shown to womens football, but respect and support has to be earned, and the standard just isn't there yet. female athletics is still relatively recent, and I'm sure there will come a day when it is more exposed. but the fact is, women's football, especially in england, is comparable to what? 16 year old boys? 17 or 18 maybe, and thats not good enough to establish a professional league on TV and whatnot.

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  • 3. At 11:41pm on 22 Apr 2009, swintona wrote:

    It seems somewhat ironic that football clubs in general are saying the women's game should be self-sufficient since the clubs are more than happy to make millions of pounds out of fans for the men's game and insist on paying players ever inflating wages to keep them at their clubs. Why can't there just be a provisary somewhere that any club of a certain turnover must have certain things eg: a youth side, a reserve side, a female side etc. This would stop the problems of economics in the long run as it seems football teams don't lose revenue from fans no matter what happens elsewhere. It's unfortunate that Platini seems to be so correct in an overall sense vis-a-vis football in europe and especially in England. The game has become 'money is what matters not fans' and I personally am somewhat outraged.
    Football should be a balance between the club, the fans, the players and the money. It should be inclusive to all who wish to participate.
    One other thing I noted from the blog here is that the Burton Centre may be put on hold?! This is the single most ridiculous thing I can recall reading on the BBC blogs and I'm a regular Robbo Robson reader!

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  • 4. At 11:42pm on 22 Apr 2009, saudioak wrote:

    i disagree, i think this is a complete shame. the ladies game is brilliant. not only is it a good standard of football, in is good in comparison to other countries. we're extremely competitive on a global scale and look as likely if not more likely than the men to acheive silverware. to do this is ridiculous an i feel for the ladies who are going to miss out because of this.

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  • 5. At 00:07am on 23 Apr 2009, Christian_Dailly_Religious_Magazine wrote:

    Its a sad story to hear.

    I have enjoyed the BBC coverage of the Womens FA Cup final and the 2005 European Championships. Is there any more womens football coming to the beeb?

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  • 6. At 00:11am on 23 Apr 2009, harrietharmman wrote:

    I find it very strange that we can't support the national game for women properly when other sports mange to help women.

    Just look at tennis - women now even get the same prize money as men for actually doing considerably less work. Seems quite bizarre that in such a sport we now actually discriminate against men, whereas in football the opposite is true and women get treated terribly (Manchester United being the most guilty of all).

    So many people love football and it is a brilliant game. If there is a shortage of money it should really be taken away from less popular womens sports and put into football where they is just so much clear potential in terms of players and audiences.

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  • 7. At 00:32am on 23 Apr 2009, oswaldmandius09 wrote:

    I live in Mexico. Seeing Premiership football live is impossible on a short visit to UK. So, I used to watch League 2 Barnet at any opportunity. Then I went to Boreham Wood and watched Arsenal Ladies play. What a difference! Real flair and creativity on show. I still occasionally catch an evening game at Barnet and watch players hacking at each other and rolling around in agony like their Premiership counterparts. But for real football and real enjoyment I go to Arsenal Ladies and get a seat in the stand and a colour programme all for a third the price of standing on a freezing piece of concrete at a League 2 game. WestCoastUTD should perhaps actually go to see women's soccer being played before he compares it to the macho game.

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  • 8. At 05:04am on 23 Apr 2009, Haruki wrote:

    ive never seen a game live ill admit..but i remember seeing the ladies fa cup on tv and it was actually terrible..there were good players of course, but the depth of talent was pretty shocking

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  • 9. At 05:06am on 23 Apr 2009, Haruki wrote:

    but im not hatin on just saying the games not there yet for a good solid fanbase, so the advertisers aren't interested, so the tv coverage isn't there, so the leagues can't survive....

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  • 10. At 08:07am on 23 Apr 2009, archie200 wrote:

    A typical lack of forward thinking from the FA - helping to properly develop the Women's game would mean another source of income (and a potentially huge one too) in the future. The size of it in the USA could be replicated here - most girls are playing football at school at least and most universities have women's teams.

    I'm reminded of Harry Pearson's remark that when the FA brought in the league pyramid system in the 1980s, they called it that because it was the most recent building that any of them had ever heard of...

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  • 11. At 08:52am on 23 Apr 2009, Davey Bones wrote:

    All sports need to survive on their own. I watch and enjoy women's golf, athletics, swimming, cycling and many other sports because they are exciting. Unfortunately women's football is not one of them the skill factor is truly awful and I would rather watch the boys under nines than women's football. In most sports the standard of women is a bit below men's, this is no slur on women it's just a physical thing but when it comes to women's football a half decent boys under sixteens eleven would beat the England team because the skill factor in women's football is very, very low. This is not the fault of women it's just a physical fact

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  • 12. At 09:34am on 23 Apr 2009, Shrimp05 wrote:

    I think before people base their entire perception of women's football on one game in the whole season, i.e. the F.A. Cup final, I think it i important to point out that, perhaps in the last final, the game, truthfully, wasn't the best to watch. But, as I said, this is ONE game. The men's game often has this at all levels - take the recent FA Cup Semis between Chelsea and Arsenal and Utd and Everton. Both games were dyer in terms of entertainment, creating chances etc etc.

    Just because one women's game (and pretty much the only one that is on TV) does not present the best entertainment once or twice, don't base the whole of the women's game on it.

    Women's football is huge and there are so many incredibly talented girls that I know who would be able to go the whole way and possibly play for their country. But they don't chase it because they think it has no future and no dependable income. Women's football needs more support and more inspiration and this can only come from measures that the FA is cutting all the time.

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  • 13. At 09:50am on 23 Apr 2009, Czechmate wrote:

    I hate it when people say all football teams should have a womends team, why should they? mens professional teams don't owe the womens sport anything. I'm all for womens football but to me when i watch it it doesn't seam like real football. I watched the women's world cup and i reckon my sunday league team could have won it and we don't get funding.

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  • 14. At 10:01am on 23 Apr 2009, 17eIvIoN wrote:

    I went to see the WFA Cup final about 5 years ago or so, Doncaster Bells vs Arsenal, at Crystal Palace, I got the tickets due to being from Doncaster, and it was a good game exciting, and after this weekends FA Cup semi's a better game, therefore perhaps instead of paying the Ronaldo's etc ridiculous sums of money take one week, just one week! of there wages and put it into the womens game a year and we'd have enough to fun it. If every premiership side put there average wage into the womens game a week then they be able to fund themselves eventually.

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  • 15. At 10:05am on 23 Apr 2009, Vox Populi wrote:

    If a sport has something going for it then people will come and put their money into it.

    If a sport is dying, then it's down to a lack of interest.

    Look, women's football has problems not because people are inherently sexist or chauvinist. I hate the politically correct 'right on' tone of some of these articles.

    We're in a credit crunch. Many men's teams and clubs over the world are going under or are in desperate debt.

    I have watched womens football and generally the standard is dire. There are men's teams going under that are producing the same level of football so I don't understand why women have to be a special case.

    Like I say, it seems to be an agenda in the name of equality when the standard of football and the lack of interest should be the bigger issues to debate. Men's football started somewhere and grew into the worldwide behemoth it is today, women's football is 100 years behind in terms of standard and development- you can't compare the men's game and the major leagues like the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, etc. to the women's I say it's not sexism, it's a culture, passion and a history of the men's game which goes back over a century.

    Seems to me this article carries on the continual idea of wanting an artificial injection of money/interest which just cannot happen overnight, and not with world economics as they are. There are more important things to worry about, to be honest.

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  • 16. At 10:12am on 23 Apr 2009, 2001calm wrote:

    Men’s game in the 80’s and early 90’s was not entertaining until more money and foreign players were a common denomination.

    Now, if The FA continues to show a complete disrespect to the women’s game by not removing the National manager who has not won any silverware for over 10yrs (except Cyprus Cup), then there’s no urgency to improve performance.

    I have been watching the WPS (Women Professional Soccer) games in the US. The standard is much better because the ladies are training everyday, which is a far contrast to the Women’s league in England.

    WPS are averaging between 5000 & 6000 fans a game (the peak at almost 15000).
    Even recently this week, a women’s friendly game between Brazil & Germany had 44,825 fans.

    Is there support for women’s game? Yes
    Can The FA do the same for English game? Yes
    Does The FA care? I will say NO

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  • 17. At 10:58am on 23 Apr 2009, sundaygame wrote:

    Its terrible that noone follows womens football in england. What the game needs in England is their own football association. Don't leave it up to the FA as they are only interested in paying for wembley and qualifying for the next world cup wit a win at all cost attitude.

    Take for example womens GAA in ireland, from April to September their is at least one and if not more live womens football matches on national TV every week. Some people even prefer womens football to men as its a faster sport with less fouls etc.
    From this the participation levels at underage football have skyrocketed and attendences at big matches have increased to the levels wher up to 50,000 people attend their equvilant of the FA cup final.
    There are real household names in womens GAA, known because of their brilliance on the field. Compare that to England, the most famous woman in English soccers is Posh Spice.

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  • 18. At 11:39am on 23 Apr 2009, Davey Bones wrote:

    NO 16,
    The men's game has always been exciting, maybe you should look at a match from the 80'S an 90's, some of the best games ever were played then.
    When the money was invested in football with the Premier League it was money generated by the game, it wasn't magically created. Why should the men's game subsidise women's football? Sure some of the wages being paid are ridiculous but it's supply and demand. If women's football was popular it would generate it's own income but unfortunately it's about as entertaining as curling. If people wanted to watch it then sponsors would be queuing up but it isn't and they aren't

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  • 19. At 1:37pm on 23 Apr 2009, WiStAhM wrote:

    Maybe Sepp Blatter was right all along!

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  • 20. At 1:59pm on 23 Apr 2009, 2001calm wrote:

    Fox Soccer is showing live WPS games every week. I wonder what the BBC is doing. People should be outraged, football is the nation’s top sport but the Americans, Europeans and Brazil have surpassed us.

    Before commenting on women's game, please check WPS website and view video highlights. Admittedly not all games are being filmed professionally, just one game a week.

    Supply & Demand. The supply is being stifled by The FA. Remember if there is competition for fan, then there's less revenue for the men’s game.

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  • 21. At 10:14pm on 23 Apr 2009, hayesy1187 wrote:

    Being a coach at a girls centre of excellence this is a massive set back in the womens game. This will begin to affect the girls as a lot of players want to play football for a living just like a lot of young boys out there. If the end product is not good enough players will not want to follow there dreams and therefore give football up and play locally. A massive shame it isn't going aheasd, just a shame we are so far behind the USA un terms of women's football

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  • 22. At 08:01am on 24 Apr 2009, Whitedragonuk wrote:

    Last night I had the pleasure to go to England's International against Norway. I agree with other blogs on here, the game was nothing like the mens'. There were no theatricals, no over paid pre-madonnas (sp)or testosterone fuelled incidents. It was a thoroughly enjoyable game that for me was a reminder of the time when football was a game, a sport, and not a business. The crowd had a great time and it was an occasion you could safely take children to and know they would be safe. And as for the skills on display, they were excellent. To deny women's football its best chance of developing is very wrong of the FA. This from someone who, at primary school in the 60s, was banned from playing football because it was deemed 'unladylike'.

    On another note the FA could do so much more to promote the game in its current form. Take last night... how many schools in the area had been told about the match and offered group tickets etc? From those attending the answer has to be none. I only knew about it from the local radio station. But having been to this match, I will definitely be going to others.

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  • 23. At 08:30am on 24 Apr 2009, MulderItsMe wrote:

    Well said Jacqui! well written..I for one am so passionate about the Ladies game and follow Arsenal ladies when i can get to see them, 3 matches coming up for me to see County Cup Final, away to Chelsea Ladies and the FA Cup final at Derby County ground, thankyou to Derby FC for staging the final and the support from the staff there including Nigel Clough. I hope a lot of people watched the England Ladies last night destroy Norway 3-0..30yard thunderbolt from Fara Williams! Our England ladies from USA based teams, arrived few days before..played ALL THE 90MINS! then fly back today to play at committed is that with no whining, primma donna requests for special needs..sorry don't want to get on that soap box..OK they had a few wobbles in defence but I struggled to find any enjoyment from the FA Cup semi final with Man Utd and Everton..the penalty shoot out? in carpet slippers! So the FA have again got it right, kick the passionate players in the teeth when they are down and support the ....well you know who I mean...I for one will continue to enjoy the ladies game played with heart and soul..proud to sponsor a player for another season...and immense pride to tell I dont support Arsenal I support ARSENAL LADIES FC. Great to see the Golden Girl Kelly Smith playing and Karen Carney and Alex Scott,for England last night, all 3 still loved at Borehamwood the home of ALFC and driven abroad by the FA dragging their feet AGAIN. PS I am male and over 21.

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  • 24. At 08:44am on 24 Apr 2009, MulderItsMe wrote: good it is to hear you went to the match, you gave it a shot and you enjoyed what you saw..and will try to follow the game more often..that is so good to read..I know the ladies are a tad behind the mens game..but so what Div 2 soccer is a tad behind Premiere League..but like womens football its played with PASSION. DWALDO on here says about the Prem League was financed by the teams, those same teams who arent interested in the lower league teams any more..they used to fleece the lower leagues of good players.. which in turn helped to finance the lower they dont want to know..but happily parade their top teams at Wembley with a pathetic semi final.
    I thought it was called the beautifull game for all to enjoy..not just Prem League, and I dont see the problem of helping out, when you can. Football doesnt revolve around the likes of Wenger, Ferguson etc its for everyone.from all ages, backgrounds and sex. As Ive said before on other blogs..those who pay over the top for Prem League games are buying that Bentley etc for their players. Who probably do a lot of charity stuff which I applaud, but following on from DWALDO this must be wrong, as its helping out.
    WHITEDRAGON enjoy the Ladies game and thanks for your support.

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  • 25. At 11:10am on 24 Apr 2009, Davey Bones wrote:

    There is a plain fact here, if people wanted to watch women's football then Sky and the other TV channels would pay big money for it. To say that it needs to be shown so people know how good it is just doesn't hold water. There is women's football on TV and practically everyone I know has seen women's football, they just don't rate it as a spectacle and mostly would not go out of their way to watch it.

    I'm not a misogynist, I watch a lot of women's sport, sometimes I watch womens golf in preference to the men's and in swimming and athletics some of my favourite sports people are women. I know this is an emotive subject but to me women's football is extremely boring when compared to mens.

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  • 26. At 1:37pm on 24 Apr 2009, freddawlanen wrote:

    Anyone who claims that the mans game owes the womens game nothing is a blinkered muppet, for 50+ years the FA exiled the womens game as it had started to attract comparable crowds, this was simply jealousy and fear and if any organisation tried to do something similar nowadays it would be in court in no time at all, with it's bosses being (rightly) charged with discrimination.

    Every single penny that the FA earmarks for 'grass roots football' should be given to the womens game as any boy who shows even a minute amount of talent is taken on by a professional club very quickly, yet if one of the best players at primary school just happens to be female, she is left to her own devices, with few prospects for the future.

    Near the end of last year England managed to finish 4th in the under 17s World cup and reached the quarter-finals at the under 20s World cup, yet neither of these achievements were even mentioned on this site (which is publicly funded and suppossed to represent the people of Great Britain), when I complained my reply stated the the BBC doesn't cover the mens game at these age levels.
    This is an out and out lie as every under 21 game is reviewed and today there is even a story about the sacking of Nigerias under 17s coach

    I expect this comment never to reach this page as it will be 'moderated' simply because it shows up the BBC for what it is, hypocritical, just like the FA.

    Isn't it about time we have a little equality.
    Isn't it about time someone sued the FA for their blatant discrimination of women.

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  • 27. At 10:56am on 27 Apr 2009, 2001calm wrote:

    Oh! what a game last night between Washington Freedom and FC Gold Pride.
    1st time control, fast & control passing, quality goals. No thanks to the BBC, only Rupert Murdoch's owned TV network Fox Soccer showed this game live.

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  • 28. At 1:09pm on 27 Apr 2009, wondergeorge123 wrote:

    I totally agree that womens football deserves better. The sad thing is if it hadn't been banned for 50-odd years by the narrow-minded FA, imagine what kind of levels the women would be achieving now!
    It's no use comparing it to the mens game and saying "Oh it's rubbish" like 95% of people do. It's had so much less time to develop. I feel sorry for the players who stayed in anticipation of a new league, but did anyone really think it would happen?
    Good luck to all the women who went to play in America, hopefully they'll get vital experience playing against the best in the world and then we'll bring home the European Championship!! (Thank god Brazil aren't it in thats all I can say!)
    Jacqui what are your predictions for the Euros? And anyone elses?
    My heart says England, my head says Germany!

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  • 29. At 1:57pm on 27 Apr 2009, 2001calm wrote:

    For England to get into the finals it will be an achievement. A tournament such as the Euro Champs requires a quality squad, which I do NOT believe England posses.
    According to the FIFA ranking, Sweden Germany Denmark & France are the major European playing power. England needs to win their group, thereby beating or even getting a draw with Sweden. Otherwise quarter finals will be difficult with playing Germany or France. My money will be reaching the quarter-finals.

    That said, I wish England good luck.

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  • 30. At 2:35pm on 27 Apr 2009, shgclgirls wrote:

    Loads of sense spoken in the main feature and in the messages relating to it - from the 'pro' womens game and from some of the 'antis'. In answer to the 'antis' I'd just say that if we didn't support something that we were fantastic at then why on earth do we support the England (men's) cricket team, the England (men's) rugby union team and a whole host of other sports teams from these shores which always seem to be on the telly (although admittedly not necessarily on the beeb because they can't afford it these days!)
    Perhaps because I'm involved in female football (albeit at junior level) I might have an axe to grind but basically the women's game does get treated appallingly by the media and the F.A. (and we all know the joke about what the initials F.A. stand for). The media don't generally show any worthwhile interest in the women's game despite the participation and uptake levels, which is the sole reason why its difficult to attract sponsorship... it's not the ability factor, its the greed factor... which probably explains the F.A.'s apparent stance regarding the game. The F.A. rarely live up to the declared 'guardians of the national game' moniker, which perhaps should be qualified to 'guardians of the national game, so long as the gravy train keeps rolling, because lets not forget that pro football is such big business these days that there's a vested interest in some quarters for keeping the sponsors happy and nearly always keeping the big clubs happy because financial muscle means political clout especially in football and anything which might just threaten the cosy coexistence of the mens pro game and the wealthy backers cannot be allowed to survive, let alone flourish.
    The way that the F.A. behaved with regard to the (lets be charitable and call it a 'delayed') women's super league is little short of a scandal. Having just a little knowledge of the hard work that had to be carried out in preparation for the bid process to enter the super league and the hoops that had to be jumped through in order to pull together an acceptable bid, I can fully understand the anguish and anger of those who were directly involved. Some of the things that were being demanded of the bidding women's clubs was far in excess of the demands made of even professional mens clubs - chartered physioterrorists (rather than merely qualified) and qualified doctors at pitch-side to name a couple. There are only a handful of chartered physios working in the mens game and yet I know that my local club managed to pull everything together only for a late night phone call to scupper everything and now my club finds itself having to appeal to the better nature of a lot of people who had graciously agreed to be involved, in the hope that they'll stay onboard until (doubtless) the F.A. pull the plug on things again in 12 months time.
    If there was truly honour in football then the top of the F.A. would stand down en-masse as they have singularly failed half of the population of this country.

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  • 31. At 11:19pm on 06 May 2009, fluffademus wrote:

    Well said shgclgirls, I completely agree!

    The fact is the FA are supposed to be the guardian's of football in this country. And that means they have a duty and responsibility to develop football at all levels.......and not just concentrate on the Premiership. As a sport, football is the largest participation sport in the country for both men and women. Indeed there are now over 150,00 registered female players in the UK and it is estimated that 1 in 3 of spectators at premiership games are female. And based on this level of participation the level of financial support for women's football is an absolute disgrace!

    Some of the argument's that the "anti" brigade are making above are quite absurd. Of course women's football is not financially viable on it's own. But neither is youth football, neither is reserve team football and neither is the majority of lower league professional men's football! But I don't hear anyone saying that these strata of football should not receive financial support from clubs or the FA....even although they are not financially viable of their own accord!

    There is a huge participation and enthusiasm for girls and women's football from the grassroots upwards. And it's time that this bottom-up enthusiasm was matched by some top-down commitment from the FA. The most sensible suggestion I've heard in this debate was the idea that it should be mandatory for all Premiership teams to field a senior ladies team. Many already do....and it's no surprise that the most successful teams in the ladies game, Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea,etc are the teams that receive the greatest backing from their clubs. With the amount of money that is circulating in the premiership surely more could be done? Even a 1% levy on transfer fees/sponsorsip money/tv money (or even agent's fees) would be a huge financial boost to the ladies game.

    And as for the comments about the standard? Well obviously standards are higher in the men's game. Men's football will always be faster, stronger and of a higher standard than the womens.....nobody is disputing that! But the women's game can be beautiful to watch too. Teams like Arsenal and Everton play the game to a very high technical standard and the National team at all levels are developing at an exponential rate. Below those teams the standard can, admittably, be variable.....and will remain so if there is no investment in the game. However, for the first time ever, we have a whole generation of girls who are playing football from a very young age. A whole generation of girls who are the future of the game. And if those at the top cannot match the enthusiasm of those kids then that is a national disgrace. If we put the finance into the top tier of the womens game now and give the excellant crop of young players who are coming through the opportunity and incentive to develop their game....then in a few short years we can have several teams matching the standards that are currently being set by Everton and Arsenal. And if we do that, standards and the depth of quality in the women's game will improve dramatically.

    And if those people above who have expressed negative comments and the hierarchy of the FA cannot see that.....then they are quite frankly idiots!

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  • 32. At 12:25pm on 09 May 2009, cleolyne wrote:

    Women's football was surpressed by the FA because during WWI it was getting to popular for the establishment.No football ground could stage a match till 70's.

    How I wish it was like USA,ITV 1 staged the Women's FA Cup use to be BBC ,but Radio 5 live had commentary.Most club web sites we are 3rd behind Youth and Reserves,lucky I see ARSENAL tv amd they show hilights of games.Sky and BBC its World Cup Internationals and Cup games that get shown.

    Tesco sponsor the league you think they would want more coverage,as the Govt want to get the nation fit especially girls they need to take the iniative.

    Wonder why Women's football/soccer is being dominated by N.Korea and USA they have mini leagues soccer academies,most important WPS.We need to be on same footing we have the talent why not use it.

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  • 33. At 11:12am on 15 May 2009, Yid-I-Oh!! wrote:

    Womens football is tosh.

    It willl never be the same as mens football, you dont get the same buzz from it. If your a true fan, you meet up with all your mates in the morning, get in the car, pre-match nerves, pub for a few beers, then go to the ground to shout your team on.

    That comment above is one thing that I firmly belive will NEVER happen with womens football.

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  • 34. At 9:27pm on 15 May 2009, karembeu wrote:

    #33 "a true fan"

    that means a man who disregards womens football totally, and probably believes it should be banished to places like that old shirt-swapping sketch from the '80s?

    i love people who seem to think they are representative of everyman, and talk as if they are spouting gospel - saves everyone else from calling them fools, as they do it themselves.

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