Why women’s football matters – The Oxford Student

Last Sunday, football went home. After 56 years of failure, England finally won a major international tournament. This final captured the nation in a way that many other events cannot match. The 2012 Olympics is one of the events that achieved this. This summer also marks the tenth anniversary of the 2012 London Olympics, which were hailed as a rare moment of national unity. A number of coins commemorating this lamented our current state compared to 2012 – Sadiq Khan called for a return to this “inclusive spirit”, a sentiment echoed by many members of the media.

There is something special about sport’s ability to unite and bring people together. To take a classical perspective, this is the idea behind ‘panem et circenses’ (meaning bread and games) – which is the Roman idea that to keep people happy they must be fed and entertained. Entertainment goes a long way to making people happy, and sports are an extremely effective form of entertainment for that purpose. There are multiple reasons why sport is able to entertain so many people.

Instinctively, most people like the idea that people can reach the top of their chosen career through hard work and dedication. This is why meritocracy is such an attractive idea. Sport is a rare example of meritocracy in today’s society. As many authors, from Sandel to Piketty, have discussed, the idea of ​​meritocracy in our society is largely a myth. Wealth, gender and ethnicity (to name a few) remain very important factors in predicting people’s life outcomes – often more important than the individual’s ability to “work hard”. “. Sport seems to avoid these problems more than many other areas of life. It’s simple – the “best man wins”. Of course, even sport is not that simple, it is at least a little closer to a meritocratic ideal.

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Specifically, there is evidence that football is particularly prone to meritocracy. Sports such as rowing, rugby and cricket have a disproportionate number of privately trained competitors, reflecting the fact that they are often inaccessible to many people. It also means it’s harder for the average person to relate to athletes. Football, on the other hand, is played by everyone, which means it’s full of ‘rags to riches’ stories. Its biggest stars are, on average, much more relatable and representative of the general public.

This special position of football has helped propel the Lionesses to the cultural prominence they have come to enjoy. However, it would be foolish of me to ignore the significance of the fact that it is England women who managed to break the international drought trophy. Apart from the captivating nature of football as a sport, the history of women’s football in this country is also captivating on its own.

Women’s football was actually quite popular in the early 1920se Century. During World War I women’s football became very popular, especially Dick, Kerr’s Ladies. This women’s football team has raised thousands for charity and seen tens of thousands of people attend their football matches. Unfortunately, after the war, the resurgence of lies about the deleterious effects of football on women’s health and morals meant that in 1921 the FA banned women’s teams from playing on Association-affiliated grounds, thus killing this which had been a promising sport. The FA would not return to direct involvement in women’s football until 1993.

Women’s football was effectively banned for decades, robbing the sport of generations of growth. This hurdle adds to the occasional sexism that has plagued women’s football consistently – many conversations about women’s football before this summer revolved around the seriousness of the situation, a view often shared by people who had literally never watched a women’s soccer game. Soccer. Sadly, Sepp Blatter’s only memorable contribution to women’s football was her belief that they should wear more revealing clothing to spark interest in the sport.

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These historical facts mean that the sport is still in its infancy. Things have gotten better over time – the WSL turned professional in 2018 and has been on the BBC since 2021. There were also massive crowds for some women’s football matches – the Euro final was the biggest large crowd during a women’s competition. Where male euros. Women’s football is finally starting to gain the support and respect it deserves, and winning the Euros is the culmination of that in many ways.

However, as Ian Wright and Alex Scott were keen to point out after the final, the hope is that this win is the start of something bigger. Now is the time to support girls who want to play football; now is the time to pay female footballers better; now is the time to build on the evidence that women’s football matters to people. The story of England’s Euro victory has resonated across the country, and I hope it becomes more than a big moment. There is a huge opportunity to leave a legacy, an opportunity that I hope cannot be missed.


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