Queens of football
Football can be described as a global language that almost everyone can speak and understand. This sport has been uniting people and bringing hope and excitement in the darkest of times. Whether a club or a national team is playing, loyal fans will always be there to support their favourites.
Fact: this sport is mostly dominated by men and it wasn’t till recent years when women started going mainstream, but did you know that women’s football goes back to the 1800s! Of course you wouldn’t know and I was shocked as much as you are now. In the early 1900, women’s football used to be popular and attracted enormous crowds, sometimes exceeding 50,000 people who rushed to women’s games. That was during the First World War.
When the war broke out, the activities of many sports leagues had to be suspended mostly because the players had been recruited to fight the battles of their countries. Meanwhile, women started working in factories to keep them running while most men were in the frontlines. At that time, women were encouraged to play sports in order to stay in shape and healthy in order not to miss a day’s work at the factories. That was the time when women started playing football in teams and organized competitions with their rivals on local level until they reached a national level. In the course of all this, they gained many supporters because of their undeniable skills, which admittedly had been mocked at before.
However, this achievement came to an end in 1921, when the FA (the Football Association in England) banned women from playing football on the fields where professional teams played. The ban was “justified” through the statement that football was unsuitable for women. The truth was that in reality, the FA were worried that the popularity of the women’s game would take punters and lessen the financial gains taken through men’s football. The ban lasted for almost 50 years, until it was lifted in 1969. It’s been described by some as one of the biggest sporting injustices of last century. It wasn’t only England who went to this shameful extreme. A similar ban was also forced in Germany and was lifted in 1970.
In today’s world, football is no longer exclusive for men. We can see women are excelling in this sport and not only on a playing level, but also on a management level. Here are some awesome examples:
Marta – The Queen of Football
Many consider her as the best female footballer in history. She holds the record for most goals in Brazilian International Football with 108 goals for her country, exceeding the legendary Pele. Being the first player among both genders of players to score at five World Cups, she has been named the planet’s best player no less than six times. But Marta’s achievements are not limited to her on-field heroics only. She’s a UN Ambassador and recently became the first woman to have her feet eternalized at the Maracana’s Walk of Fame.
Susan Whelan – Miracle Maker
In 2011, Susan was appointed as a chief executive for Leicester City Club. When she was given the position, she had no football experience but she had been their best signing by far. Under her leadership, the club managed to go against all odds and to famously win the Premier League title in 2016. This happened for the first time in ten years in the Premier League. She also has successfully restructured the club’s commercial arm, making profits which reach unparalleled levels.
Marina Granovskaia – the most powerful woman in football
Marina is a Russian-Canadian lady who is the chief executive of Chelsea club. She was named by the Times as “The most powerful woman in football”. She manages the day-to-day tasks of Chelsea club, handling all transfers and contracts at Stamford Bridge. She was responsible for brokering the club’s £60million-a-year sponsorship deal with Nike. This makes her the most important figure in one of England’s biggest football clubs.
Megan Rapinoe – The Star
Megan is an American footballer who plays as a winger and a captain of the national team. She led her team into winning two consecutive World Cups; the latest was in 2019 when the USA won over the Netherlands at the final. In 2019, she won the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball awards at the Women’s World Cup in France. The same year, she was named The Best FIFA Women’s Player. Rapinoe is also a fierce advocate for equal pay between men and women internationals.
Stephanie Frappart – The Pioneer
Stéphanie Frappart is a French football referee. She has been on the FIFA International Referees List since 2009 and since then she has been making history. In 2020 she became the first female to referee a men’s UEFA Champions League match when she was in charge of the game Juventus vs Dynamo Kiev in Turin. She was also the first female referee to officiate a major men’s European final when she took charge of the UEFA Super Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea in September, 2019.
Reading all these successful stories of great women with astounding achievements in a field dominant mostly by men is inspiring and if their accomplishments show something, that is the fact that women can master everything if given equal opportunities. Football is a gender free sport that has been fascinating people and enriching their life with magical moments. So let’s keep the ball running without borders or labels.
-By Marianne Wolf