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Women's football returns to the BBC

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Lance Hardy | 12:31 UK time, Friday, 10 September 2010

Women's football returns to the BBC on Sunday with live coverage of the first leg of England's World Cup play-off against Switzerland in Shrewsbury on BBC Three and the BBC Sport website from 1900 BST. We will also have live coverage of the second leg, too, which is to be played in Wohlen on Thursday, 16 September.

The Women's World Cup has been extended to 16 teams for the 2011 tournament, which is being hosted by reigning world and European champions Germany. Uefa was given just four other guaranteed places in the finals, so eight qualifying groups have provided eight winners who now play-off in four matches.

England, who avoided the Scandinavian powers of Denmark, Norway and Sweden as well as France and Italy, will start firm favourites against a country that has never played in the Women's World Cup finals before and is 17 places below them in the world rankings.

I edited seven successive FA Women's Cup finals for the BBC between 2002 and 2008 but there is no question that it was the England team that really caught the imagination of the public. The attendances in the north-west of the country and our own viewing figures when England hosted Euro 2005 were fantastic. Coach Hope Powell's team have gone from strength to strength since then, reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup in China in 2007 and reaching the final of Euro 2009 in Finland.

The core of the England team remains from five years ago: Rachel Brown in goal, captain Faye White and Casey Stoney in central defence with Alex Scott and Rachel Unitt at full-back; Katie Chapman and Fara Williams in midfield with Kelly Smith the playmaker; Eniola Aluko up front with Karen Carney and Rachel Yankey down the flanks.

Rachel Yankey in action for England

Rachel Yankey will be pleased to be involved with England again

Yankey missed out on the Euros last year and I know how disappointed she was - she appeared as a guest on the BBC for the final against Germany - so it is good she is back in form and involved again, even though her place in the team may be at the expense of our regular studio pundit Sue Smith.

The one player that has really emerged on the international stage since 2005 is midfielder Jill Scott, who had an excellent tournament in Finland 12 months ago, while five of the England squad - Alex Scott, Carney, Chapman, Kelly Smith and Aluko - now play in the United States.

England have evolved into a very strong international side over the last five years - they are now ranked ninth in the world - and the experience and maturity they have suggests 2011 will be this squad's big chance for international glory. Brown, Kelly Smith, White and Yankey are now all in their early thirties.

Powell has played down the favourites' tag by saying: "The games you are expected to win are invariably the toughest." But England are expected to reach the finals, which kick off in Berlin's Olympiastadion - the venue of the 2006 men's World Cup final between Italy and France - on Sunday, 26 June, 2011.

An unexpected 2-2 draw between England and Switzerland in the Cyprus Cup friendly tournament in March suggests this two-legged affair may be no walkover, while Switzerland won a qualifying group that featured the Republic of Ireland and Russia. But England were under-strength in Cyprus that day and they have no injury concerns ahead of this contest.

Whatever happens, you can follow every kick on the BBC. I hope you will join us.

Gabby Logan presents live coverage of the first leg from Shrewsbury on BBC Three and the BBC Sport website from 1900 BST on Sunday.

Jake Humphrey presents live coverage of the second leg from Wohlen on the Red Button and the BBC Sport website from 1755 BST on Thursday, 16 September, with live coverage of the second half from 1900 BST on BBC Three.

Martin Keown and Jo Potter are in the studio, while our regular commentary team of Guy Mowbray and Lucy Ward will be in both Shrewsbury and Wohlen.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Glad to see this blog's been moved onto the football pages. Good luck to Hope's ladies who deserve far more coverage and respect given their recent tournament performances which put the men to shame.

    My only disappointment is Lianne Sanderson's decision to quit the National team at only 22 years of age. I hope the ego's seen in the bloke's game doesn't creep into the women's set-up and she can be pursuaded to return to the fold?

    Five of the squad (six if Lianne was included) playing in the States is a sin for the so-called home of football. Lance, will the new Summer league be covered by the Beeb at all to help promote the women's game domestically?

  • Comment number 2.

    More importantly, please bring back Quotes of the Week - we miss it. Thanks in advance for your prompt cooperation.

  • Comment number 3.

    The fact that this is being shown live on terrestrial tv is fantastic. The women's ggame should be given more attention as if it is it will grow into a bigger more respected institution.

  • Comment number 4.

    Whilst I agree that it's great that women's football is getting more airtime, it could still be improved. After all, the England women's team beat Switzerland 2-0 on Sunday in their World Cup qualifiers, yet this was completely ignored by Match of the Day 2. Instead, the show gave airtime to irrelevances like a halftime marriage proposal by a random fan at Birmingham.

    I didn't realise that the full title of the programme was "Match Of The Day 2 (But Only Men's Matches)".

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ok... so where are the editor posts on the coverage of the Commonwealth Games?

    Oli

  • Comment number 7.

    Good luck to all the ladies in the world cup, maybe you can do better then the men!

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm so excited - MORE football on the telly. I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than watch.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    Why don't the BBC get some decent football? If they can't afford the Premier League, why not get some more Football League games, or one of the Cup competition? Even the Auto Windscreen Wipers shield or non-league football would be more interesting than this slow paced, technically poor, weak silliness? They could use monies spent on silly sports such as ladies football, the (pointless) Commonwealth Games, Grid Iron and horse racing to get something more interesting, such as live games from the Ryman Premier League.

    Don't get me wrong, Treacle loves the ladies, but there is a time and a place!!!

    Capiche?

  • Comment number 11.

    Why is it taking over 4-5 hours for the insightful and delightful comments of the late Great Lords Sir Windor and Treacle to be moderated?

    Come on the Beeb, get on with it - the fans of the two legendary oracles are awaiting with baited breath!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    Dear BBC Moderators

    I notice that the egregious Lord Sir Treacle and I have both offered up pearls of wisdom on this article which have yet to be published. I'm an old gent, possibly with not long left on this planet, so could you please get a ruddy move on. The good lady wife is getting annoyed with me for hogging the laptop; she wants to catch up with Songs of Praise on the BBC iPlayer.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    I cannot believe that after the self-aggrandizing tone of this article back in September, there was not even live coverage of the draw for the Women's world cup 2011 this evening. We get live text for every spurious sporting event (this evening for a non-English match featuring no English players) and the BBC cannot even be bothered to do a live coverage of the draw? I wonder whether BBC has got rights to the World Cup proper? I fear not, which means coverage on the website will be virtually non-existent, with no "product" to promote.

  • Comment number 16.

    @FFMexpat - At least the UK still gets some coverage.. am based out in Africa at the moment and we get absolutely nothing out here on women's footie :(

    Michelle

  • Comment number 17.

    Given the amazing excitement and coverage over the last month for the Cricket World cup, I wonder how long it will be before there's a women's cricket tournament. Lol, no doubt there'll be a chunk of the BBC audience complaining that there isn't sufficient coverage then too.

  • Comment number 18.

    Please put more women's football coverage on the BBC. I'm so sick of watching men's footie with all the swearing, violence and embarrasing footballers' wives!

  • Comment number 19.

    where the money for this coming from ?
    I thought you needed to make cutbacks?

  • Comment number 20.

    Something to watch instead of the F1!

  • Comment number 21.

    Why were the comments on explanation of the BBC/Sky deal and F1 closed? What's the matter BBC, can't handle the criticism?

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    Oh Good Womens Football! That should help fill the void left from selling the F1 coverage! Well done BBC!! Could anyone answer how much this has cost to air live and how many people they expect to watch this? I'm sure the 8500 people who have vented their anger on Ben Gallops' (now closed) blog would be interested to know this. If ever proof was needed that BBC are lying to us about the reasoning behind the F1 deal you've just finished reading it! Shame on you BBC, Shame on you!!

  • Comment number 24.

    Why are comments still allowed on this article; it is more than a few days old.

    BBC Sport have a policy for closing articles for comments when an article is a few days old, the reason given for Ben Gallop's article on F1 being closed to comments.

  • Comment number 25.

    I see Jake Humphrey is presenting live coverage of the second leg, what will the BBC do when he is poached by Sky because they let more of their sports coverage go to pay per channel broadcasting?

    Last week it was F1, what next, all Sport on Sky and still we pay a licence fee?

    Shame on you BBC

  • Comment number 26.

    What does this mean - a year old blog still open when Ben Gallop's F1 excuse blog was closed as "not topical". 0h dear , oh dear - what a tangled web we weave BBC when we try to lie to and deceive our very unhappy customers.

    I do think women's football is a good thing - unlike the tedious, boring foreign owned, foreign managed and foreign played premier league and its ilk.

    Talking of British matters pity the BBC didn't think viewers might like to see the British success story that is F1 racing.

  • Comment number 27.

    I agree entirely with BBBnowBSB,comment 26. I would dearly love to see the viewing figures for the recent Womens World Cup, and to know why this is not a 'niche' sport like F1.
    I did see some of the event, and I found it to be every bit as exciting and watchable as men playing football - so I will not be watching in future.

  • Comment number 28.

    Womens football should be shown more often on the BBC it's a growing sport but beware so was F1 on the BBC. When they cut back on women's football the blog will be shut down as quickly as the f1 blog was as it was no "longer topical"

  • Comment number 29.

    Strange how you've closed the formula 1 blog down as it was a few days old and this ones over a year old, a disgraceful case of censorship on the BBC.

    Absolutely disgusting considering people were posting and making their feelings clear right up to the point where you shut it down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    An interesting way of spending a Sunday - finding out how topical these blogs are! I must have missed the past ten months' wall to wall coverage of women's football keeping it topical.

  • Comment number 31.

    the womens football got good viewing figures at the end because it over ran into family guy lol

    be good to see what the figures are for the womens golf too

  • Comment number 32.

    The future of sport on the BBC is clearly going to be pointless rubbish like women's football, bowls, tiddlywinks etc. Problem is F1 doesn't fit in with the leftist ideals of the BBC, the reality is people won't watch this dross but the BBC gets the licence fee whether we watch it or not

  • Comment number 33.

    Much better to waste erm spend money on womens football rather that retain full F1 coverage.....

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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