Preserving the Legacy of Women’s Football and its Importance

England fans celebrate Lionesses 2-1 win over Germany in the Euro 2022 final
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: England fans cheer as they celebrate the 2-1 win during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Protecting the legacy of women’s football has never been more prominent than it is today. Women’s football has come a long way since 1921, when women were banned from playing football on FA grounds.

The ban lasted for 50 years, after more than 50,000 spectators attended a game. This applied to all football club grounds run by the FA in England. The FA’s Consultative Committee’s ruling for the ban included the below reasons.

“Complaints having been made as to football being played by women, Council felt impelled to express the strong opinion that the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and should not be encouraged…

“…For these reasons the Council requests the Clubs belonging to the Association refuse the use of their grounds for such matches.”

Progression and Preservation

In the current times, the noteworthy progression of women’s football legacy is heavily significant. Every element in women’s football has had to overcome obstacles, and it therefore provides an exemplary domestic and global interdisciplinary case study for female empowerment and leadership.

The injustice of the ban and significant devastating effect on the women’s game is undeniable. Knowing the negative impacts of the ban has made the preservation of their games and legacy that much more important.

Lifting the Ban

To date, no clear explanation has been given around why the governing bodies that took over in 1993, did not keep proper records and documents of the running of women’s football (Cunningham, 2022).

All who played for the men’s England team were given a cap that included their name and the number they were assigned in chronology of representing their country (Ibid). After the ban, it is unclear why the Lionesses who participated in the first official England game in 1972, did not receive these official caps.

There are attempts made to gloss over the hurt and indignation of the way the former Lionesses were treated. It is imperative to today’s generation, and the England legacy, that the same mistreatment is never repeated.

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Consequently, it took Labour MP Barbara Keeley to raise the distribution of caps to the Lionesses at the House of Commons. Only then did the FA commit to handing official caps to every female that represented England.

The attempt to disregard any part of the Lionesses legacy is inexcusable. While they were on the receiving end of being publicly disrespected and dismissed by the governing football bodies, it simultaneously symbolised attitudes and treatment toward what future female footballers could expect, and prepared them for what they would be up against. 

Each girl that has played football on any level has shown their fearlessness and that they would not shy away from such challenges. Fortunately, these challenges have been also taken up by every person that wrote, photographed, watched and supported the women’s game.

All things considered, preserving women’s football legacy is not only about telling their stories and remembering their impressive athletic abilities. Undoubtedly, their legacy is much more than that.

It is about preserving and securing the future of women’s football and for some their place in society.

It is a legacy ensures that future generations can play the game they love and expect the same level of respect and treatment to their professional male counterparts. 

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