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What’s the point of the Women’s World Cup? Grandiose claims about deeper meaning aren't always the answer

Not Ed Davey. (Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Not Ed Davey. (Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


August 19, 2023   6 mins

A useful guide to the significance of a sporting achievement can be gleaned from how desperate politicians are to be associated with it. And given that within minutes of England’s 3-1 World Cup semi-final win over Australia on Wednesday, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey had posted a staggeringly wooden shot of himself celebrating victory in a pub, it can safely be said that England reaching the Women’s World Cup final is a very big deal indeed.

At least Davey appeared to know what was going on. Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s former deputy prime minister, posted celebratory photos after inadvertently watching an old game rather than Australia’s quarter-final win over France. But the broader point is the same: politicians in both the UK and Australia have been desperate to leap aboard the bandwagon.

In the UK, the Lionesses’ successes have been splashed across front as well as back pages. Viewing figures have been extraordinary, particularly given games are being played in the mornings: 7.2 million people watched England’s quarter-final win over Colombia (only 300,000 fewer than watched the finale of Happy Valley) and, given the final of the Euros last year drew 11.2 million, it’s safe to assume Sunday’s final against Spain will attract well over 10 million. it may even challenge the Coronation, which drew 12.03 million, as the most-watched programme of the year. What that means is far harder to say.

It is common in the wake of sporting successes to make great claims about their wider significance. Yet history isn’t always a helpful guide. Despite South Africa’s rugby union World Cup win in 1995 and footballing success at the Africa Cup of Nations the following year, it is not a happy and harmonious rainbow nation. Nor did the victory of France’s “Black-Blanc-Beur” side at the 1998 football World Cup end prejudice and racial tension there. Which is not to say that those triumphs and the celebrations that followed were worthless: symbols can still have value even if the ideal they represent remains distant, perhaps unattainable.

Jules Rimet, the French Fifa president who oversaw the birth of the men’s tournament, believed the World Cup would be a force for good, fostering greater understanding and brotherhood among nations. Even at the first World Cup, in 1930, it must have been hard to maintain that idealism as the Argentina captain Luis Monti received death threats from Uruguayan fans before the final, after which Uruguayan property in Buenos Aires was stoned and torched. By 1934 in Italy, when Mussolini took charge and turned the tournament into a celebration of fascism, it became impossible.

But then what can be expected from sport? The Olympic Games was launched in 1896 with similarly high-minded ideals; its sixth edition, scheduled for Berlin in 1916, had to be abandoned because of the First World War. Nobody, though, could realistically say, as a result, that Baron De Courbertin had failed. 

So, what are major sporting events for? The expense of the London Olympics, which in retrospect can feel like a halcyon fortnight of success and national pride, was justified in part by the supposed health benefits brought by increased participation. As it turned out, participation decreased in each of the three years that followed, although there were economic benefits. 

Again, it would be easy to be cynical but the context is important. The Games were awarded to London on 6 July 2005. A day later, 52 people were killed and hundreds injured in attacks on the city’s transport network by four suicide bombers. As Emeli Sandé’s rendition of “Abide With Me” at the opening ceremony made clear, the two events were linked: the Games became about defiance, about the assertion of De Coubertin’s ideals of human striving in the face of terror. Munich in 1972 and Atlanta in 1996 faced that issue far more directly.

In Australia, this World Cup has created an unprecedented buzz around football and women’s sport. The semi-final was the most watched TV event in Australian history, surpassing Cathy Freeman’s 400m gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Yet the example of Freeman shows how fragile the supposed lessons of sport can be. At the time, it was claimed that Freeman’s success heralded a new, more inclusive Australia, yet just a year later the Australian government turned away the Tampa, a Norwegian freighter laden with asylum seekers it had rescued from the seas north of Christmas Island. 

This year, nobody is making any grandiose claims about the broader significance of England’s progress to the final. Attempts to draw sweeping lessons from the fact that England are thriving under Sarina Wiegman when they struggled under Phil Neville are probably best avoided, unless the lesson is simply never to appoint Phil Neville. 

Sport, after all, rarely offers straightforward messages. Consider England men’s success in the 1966 World Cup. After the various embarrassments of the Fifties, it was a reassertion of English supremacy, the mother of the game striking back. But what did that mean? The greatest of those embarrassments had come at Wembley in November 1953 with a 6-3 defeat to Hungary, the first time England had ever lost at home to non-British or Irish opposition. The symbolism of that result seemed obvious: dynamic, modern, socialist Hungary upsetting moribund old imperial England at what was then still called the Empire Stadium. It was a footballing precursor of Suez — even if, as British troops landed in Egypt in October 1956, Hungary was rising up against its Communist leaders; the narrative of British decline was far more solid than that of the Hungarian future.

The wider context of 1966, however, was not the return of imperial might but of Britain — or at least England — embracing the new reality and undergoing reinvention as a home of a vibrant and irreverent youth culture. Alf Ramsey may have been a (very) unlikely leader of it, but his England side, captained by the ineffably cool Bobby Moore, became part of swinging London. That mood was embodied in the tournament mascot, World Cup Willie, a lion with a Beatle haircut in a Union flag jersey, which chimed with the use of the flag and roundel in pop art and by bands such as The Who. The imperial lion had been transformed into something cheeky and welcoming, but it was also a commercial ploy, the first time a World Cup had thought to devise a mascot whose image could transform T-shirts and tea-towels into saleable souvenirs.

While there was certainly celebration in 1966 — it was, an AA spokesman said, “like VE Night, election night and New Year’s Eve rolled into one” — the sense is of something more contained. In the week after the final, newspaper follow-ups tended to consist of apologies from writers who had doubted Ramsey and reflections on what success might mean for the popularity of English domestic football. Nobody was talking then about a post-imperial nation rediscovering its roar, but with an ironic edge.

“Sunny Afternoon” by the Kinks was displaced at number one in the charts on the Saturday of the quarter-final but, as Dominic Sandbrook notes in White Heat, it captured the general mood: the weather was good, wages were up, and, with Britain feted for everything from James Bond to Mary Quant, David Hockney to David Bailey, The Beatles to The Rolling Stones, the World Cup win was confirmation of the self-confidence of the age. Thirty years later, England men’s progress to the semi-final of Euro 96 felt similarly linked to a blossoming of British culture, to Blur and Oasis, Damien Hirst and Danny Boyle — who, of course, would shape much of the narrative around London 2012 by directing the opening ceremony. Even Bond had emerged from a six-year hiatus with the release of Goldeneye eight months earlier.

It is different when you’re not hosting, of course, but this World Cup hasn’t felt part of a cultural moment, even if it has been far more mainstream and of a far higher standard than any previous women’s tournament. Quite rightly, there are concerns about the disparity in funding in the women’s game in different regions, but none of the debutants have looked out of their depth; there have been no thrashings like the 13-0 defeat Thailand suffered against the USA four years ago.

Quality of football is one thing, but what makes a tournament is moments and narrative, and this is a World Cup that has had both in abundance: the Lauren James stamp, the Sam Kerr equaliser, the doomed beauty of Japan’s play, the early exits of Germany and Brazil, Megan Rapinoe’s missed penalty against Sweden, Linda Caicedo recovering from cancer to score against Germany, Thembi Kgatlana’s late winner for South Africa against Italy, Spain’s progress despite the mutiny against their coach, Ella Toone’s thunderous finish

England, in particular, has been provided with a new clutch of role models, from the buccaneering Lucy Bronze to the rapid Lauren Hemp to the scheming Keira Walsh. Available again after suspension for her red card against Nigeria, there could yet be a redemption tale for Lauren James. At the heart of it all has been Wiegman, who has reached her fourth final in her fourth major tournament. Commanding and undemonstrative, she was able to field the same starting XI in every game in leading England to the Euros last summer; this time, with injury ruling out three key players, she has had to be far more flexible and the result has been football that, while less expansive, has probably been all the more impressive. (Although, of course, it is indicative of the advantages England enjoy over other nations in terms of funding that they could afford to appoint the Dutch coach).

But perhaps the specifics matter less than the fact that England are playing well in a tournament that palpably matters. Success at the Euros did raise participation, with 32% of girls now playing football at break-time at school compared to 22% before that tournament. Women’s Super League attendances also rose dramatically last season and will presumably keep going up, increasing revenue and opportunity.

Whether this is part of some wider cultural movement, whether that matters and how long any impact lasts, it is almost certainly too early to tell. But this is undoubtedly very good news for women’s football in England. As to how good, perhaps the best guide would be to ask Davey or Joyce what they made of a game in a year or two.


Jonathan Wilson is a columnist for the Guardian and Sports Illustrated, the editor of the Blizzard and author of Angels With Dirty Faces: A Footballing History of Argentina.

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Samir Iker
Samir Iker
9 months ago

The basic premise of this piece is rather stretched and nonsensical. What surprises me though is that commenters here are taken aback by this – as it should be very obvious that women’s football, how it’s viewed and it’s media coverage, has been hijacked by “progressives” and politicised. Of course it has to be about “inclusion”, the “wider significance”, how it’s good that England fans are watching women’s football even though it’s inferior compared to men, simply out of pride for nation – while simultaneously deriding that concept of national pride and joy because it’s icky and Brexitey.

Now, I have a daughter who I constantly push towards stuff like gaming, coding, tech, football – not to “compete” against boys but to ensure she doesn’t grow up all girly and shallow.
But it’s very evident when it comes to football or cricket, she and other girls I know have very little interest (in contrast to boys her own age).

And it’s also fairly obvious that the standards of women’s sports are abysmal compared to men. Biology, and bodies tuned to ease childbirth rather than throwing stuff.

But, if you follow the coverage, and it’s quite overwhelming media coverage (which should be a clue), the message is not “there is some tournament on, watch it if interested, England winning hurrah”. It’s all about how women’s football must be treated at par with men, and how it’s unacceptable that football roughly equivalent to the 3rd tier division 1 or worse doesn’t get the same audiences and pay as Messi and co.

The ones pushing that stuff are exactly – almost precisely – the same idiots who think it’s awful that we don’t just let boatloads of immigrants jump over to Western countries (while they themselves stay in mostly white upper class gated suburbs), believe in multiculturalism or think Brexiteers are the spawn of Satan.

Hence articles like this.

And whether it’s “very good news for women’s football” is questionable, because this same lot of people would also support trans – of course they would.
So we might hilariously end up with women’s footballers being artificially brought closer to par with men pay wise – while simultaneously being overrun with 3rd rate men pretending to be women.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

How in the name of sanity do you manage to shoehorn immigrants and wokeness into a sneering post about women’s football?
What’s the point of you mate
https://ayenaw.com/2023/08/19/world-cup-final/

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

If you do not want to address the argument an ad hominin attack is a poor substitute

Last edited 9 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I’d love to see some stats on how often different subscribers end up in “the red zone”. It would be amusing.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

If you do not want to address the argument an ad hominin attack is a poor substitute

Last edited 9 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
8 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I’d love to see some stats on how often different subscribers end up in “the red zone”. It would be amusing.

Tony Price
Tony Price
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Women’s football is not ‘inferior’ to men’s, it’s different. And ‘standards of women’s sports are abysmal compared to men’ – absolute b0oll0cks! I referee women’s rugby a fair bit at, assorted lower levels, and they are usually techinically superior to the equivalent men’s standard (‘cos they listen to their coaches!) if a tad slower and they cheat less (makes it easier to ref) – and also obviously enjoy it more than the boys.

Watch top international women’s rugby and tell me it ain’t physical!

BTW I agree that pay should be linked to income generated. Professional sport is not a game, it’s paid-for entertainment.

Last edited 9 months ago by Tony Price
Dominic S
Dominic S
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Having refereed the men’s game, and then done a number of women’s games, the difference in standard and ability is night and day – men are so much better, and even under 18s would make mincemeat of international women’s teams (and did, when the then world champion women’s team, the USA, were hammered by an amateur under 17 boys team). The difference in behaviour isn’t, women are just as bad, and just as foul mouthed.

Last edited 9 months ago by Dominic S
harry storm
harry storm
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Men crowing about how “superior” men’s sport is compared to women’s may be obvious, but because it’s so obvious, it’s not a good look. Of COURSE women’s football (and rugby, and basketball, and hockey) is “inferior” to men’s in terms of speed and strength. So what? It’s like saying Husain Bolt runs faster than any woman. We know. It’s irrelevant, even to the pay “issue,” where the only thing that matters is how much the game brings in.

Last edited 8 months ago by harry storm
Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

The refereeing in many women’s games is awful… as it was in the World Cup.
It’s big of you to own up.
The fact that any decent U18 men’s team can beat any team in the World Cup is irrelevant. The women’s game is different, but no less enjoyable and increasingly, no less skillfull.
There is no woman player in history in Tennis who would get to the last 32 of any men’s comp. No women’s rugby team could play any U16 decent boys team. No women’s sprinter, or any other runner, would make the heats of men’s sprints.
Are women not supposed to play sport at all in your world?

Tim Richards
Tim Richards
8 months ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

I don’t think the argument is about whether women should play any sport but whether their entertainment value entitles them or is worthy of equal remuneration whether salary or prize money. I bet at most tennis clubs, like mine, when members are involved in a ballot for tickets to Wimbledon there is great disappointment from almost all when they are offered a ticket to a predominately woman day.

Tim Richards
Tim Richards
8 months ago
Reply to  Ted Ditchburn

I don’t think the argument is about whether women should play any sport but whether their entertainment value entitles them or is worthy of equal remuneration whether salary or prize money. I bet at most tennis clubs, like mine, when members are involved in a ballot for tickets to Wimbledon there is great disappointment from almost all when they are offered a ticket to a predominately woman day.

harry storm
harry storm
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Men crowing about how “superior” men’s sport is compared to women’s may be obvious, but because it’s so obvious, it’s not a good look. Of COURSE women’s football (and rugby, and basketball, and hockey) is “inferior” to men’s in terms of speed and strength. So what? It’s like saying Husain Bolt runs faster than any woman. We know. It’s irrelevant, even to the pay “issue,” where the only thing that matters is how much the game brings in.

Last edited 8 months ago by harry storm
Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

The refereeing in many women’s games is awful… as it was in the World Cup.
It’s big of you to own up.
The fact that any decent U18 men’s team can beat any team in the World Cup is irrelevant. The women’s game is different, but no less enjoyable and increasingly, no less skillfull.
There is no woman player in history in Tennis who would get to the last 32 of any men’s comp. No women’s rugby team could play any U16 decent boys team. No women’s sprinter, or any other runner, would make the heats of men’s sprints.
Are women not supposed to play sport at all in your world?

Steve Farrell
Steve Farrell
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Technically superior? Not sure about that. There’s little to be gained from lying.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Farrell

…I Agree with Tony about rugby actually, except when it comes to kicking the ball. Which is also the problem in women’s football, which makes it less watchable for me.

Tony Price
Tony Price
9 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

That used to be the case but surprisingly if practised women are just as technically good at kicking, just that usually it don’t go as far! Have you watched the ongoing women’s soccer WC? – a couple of the goals have been astonishing, and I believe that one penalty was measured as harder than any recent male effort!

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Yep. Been to some of the games! But speed on the ball is still well short of the men’s game, and most attempted power shots have been just that, attempts.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Yep. Been to some of the games! But speed on the ball is still well short of the men’s game, and most attempted power shots have been just that, attempts.

Tony Price
Tony Price
9 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

That used to be the case but surprisingly if practised women are just as technically good at kicking, just that usually it don’t go as far! Have you watched the ongoing women’s soccer WC? – a couple of the goals have been astonishing, and I believe that one penalty was measured as harder than any recent male effort!

Tony Price
Tony Price
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Farrell

How many women’s games have you watched or refereed?

Kit Read
Kit Read
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Farrell

It is indicative that people get excited about Women being in a World Cup Tournament only if they are playing a “typical” male game such a Rugby Union or League & cricket but when the England team was in the Netball World Cup Final in South africa a fw weeks ago the coverage was negligible

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
9 months ago
Reply to  Kit Read

Personally much prefer to watch netball – you don’t get all of the aping of male behaviour that you see in women’s football. The only reason that football gets so much attention is because men play it too.

Last edited 9 months ago by Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
9 months ago
Reply to  Kit Read

Personally much prefer to watch netball – you don’t get all of the aping of male behaviour that you see in women’s football. The only reason that football gets so much attention is because men play it too.

Last edited 9 months ago by Jane Anderson
Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Farrell

If they were technically superior, I guess they’d be playing in the men’s Premier League. But they’re not.
To be fair, the Spanish (in the 13 mins of added time I watched today) did look like they were actually playing decent football – and in the style of the men’s Spanish team. That is demonstrating the ability to quickly and precisely pass the ball and keep possession without endlessly turning it over to the other team. The “unforced error” rate in the WWC matches I’d seen was an order of magnitude higher than in the professional men’s game. Quality matters.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Farrell

…I Agree with Tony about rugby actually, except when it comes to kicking the ball. Which is also the problem in women’s football, which makes it less watchable for me.

Tony Price
Tony Price
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Farrell

How many women’s games have you watched or refereed?

Kit Read
Kit Read
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Farrell

It is indicative that people get excited about Women being in a World Cup Tournament only if they are playing a “typical” male game such a Rugby Union or League & cricket but when the England team was in the Netball World Cup Final in South africa a fw weeks ago the coverage was negligible

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Steve Farrell

If they were technically superior, I guess they’d be playing in the men’s Premier League. But they’re not.
To be fair, the Spanish (in the 13 mins of added time I watched today) did look like they were actually playing decent football – and in the style of the men’s Spanish team. That is demonstrating the ability to quickly and precisely pass the ball and keep possession without endlessly turning it over to the other team. The “unforced error” rate in the WWC matches I’d seen was an order of magnitude higher than in the professional men’s game. Quality matters.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

When I was younger First Division professional footballers earned in the region two hundred pound a week. A lot of money but still not many multiple of average earnings. The players were still grounded in the community and you would occasionally see them out and about. I remember bumping into Gordon Banks and Geoff Hurst in the café at Stoke railway station completing insurance forms. It not being possible to make enough money from football, even at the highest level, to be able to retire when they finished playing, they had to take up selling insurance.
At the time those that controlled the game fought tooth and nail to try to keep out television and it was the advent of Sky that turned top fight football into a billion £ business which was a relevantly recent development.
On the one hand what top flight payers now earn can be seen as an abomination. On the other, misgivings about the system aside, they generate the income so why should they not keep it. Either way I sometimes berate my colleagues for giving their support and money to multi-millionaires with whom they have no connection. I try to encourage them to a proper sport like darts.
My problem with the push for women’s football is two-fold. First, the male game is an abomination; corrupt, awash with dubious money, tied to out of control gambling interests and sold to a gullible public by a bought and paid for MSM. Why would you want to replicate it?
Second, women’s football it is not a genuine organic evolution. It is being pushed by a bunch of activists who are in a position to ensure that it receives much more media and television coverage than it merits. As Mr Iker points out, these are almost precisely the same enemies who think it’s awful that we don’t just let in boatloads of immigrants, while they themselves reside in mostly white upper class gated enclaves, believe in multiculturalism, think Brexiteers are the spawn of Satan and who support the participation of transwomen in women’s sport.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
9 months ago

“It is being pushed by a bunch of activists who are in a position to ensure that it receives much more media and television coverage than it merits.”

Absolutely spot on. As somebody else has pointed out, the women’s netball final got zero coverage. Why? Because it’s a girl’s game and there’s no agenda to push.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
9 months ago

“It is being pushed by a bunch of activists who are in a position to ensure that it receives much more media and television coverage than it merits.”

Absolutely spot on. As somebody else has pointed out, the women’s netball final got zero coverage. Why? Because it’s a girl’s game and there’s no agenda to push.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
8 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Spot on… showbiz for sweaty people, just as politics is showbiz for ugly people.

Dominic S
Dominic S
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Having refereed the men’s game, and then done a number of women’s games, the difference in standard and ability is night and day – men are so much better, and even under 18s would make mincemeat of international women’s teams (and did, when the then world champion women’s team, the USA, were hammered by an amateur under 17 boys team). The difference in behaviour isn’t, women are just as bad, and just as foul mouthed.

Last edited 9 months ago by Dominic S
Steve Farrell
Steve Farrell
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Technically superior? Not sure about that. There’s little to be gained from lying.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
9 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

When I was younger First Division professional footballers earned in the region two hundred pound a week. A lot of money but still not many multiple of average earnings. The players were still grounded in the community and you would occasionally see them out and about. I remember bumping into Gordon Banks and Geoff Hurst in the café at Stoke railway station completing insurance forms. It not being possible to make enough money from football, even at the highest level, to be able to retire when they finished playing, they had to take up selling insurance.
At the time those that controlled the game fought tooth and nail to try to keep out television and it was the advent of Sky that turned top fight football into a billion £ business which was a relevantly recent development.
On the one hand what top flight payers now earn can be seen as an abomination. On the other, misgivings about the system aside, they generate the income so why should they not keep it. Either way I sometimes berate my colleagues for giving their support and money to multi-millionaires with whom they have no connection. I try to encourage them to a proper sport like darts.
My problem with the push for women’s football is two-fold. First, the male game is an abomination; corrupt, awash with dubious money, tied to out of control gambling interests and sold to a gullible public by a bought and paid for MSM. Why would you want to replicate it?
Second, women’s football it is not a genuine organic evolution. It is being pushed by a bunch of activists who are in a position to ensure that it receives much more media and television coverage than it merits. As Mr Iker points out, these are almost precisely the same enemies who think it’s awful that we don’t just let in boatloads of immigrants, while they themselves reside in mostly white upper class gated enclaves, believe in multiculturalism, think Brexiteers are the spawn of Satan and who support the participation of transwomen in women’s sport.

Last edited 9 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
8 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Spot on… showbiz for sweaty people, just as politics is showbiz for ugly people.

Sue Ward
Sue Ward
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Interesting conflation of girly and shallow. Is it shallow to be able to cook? Is coding more worthy than being able to draw or sew? Why must girls be forced into traditionally male sports at the expense of say netball, ballet, horse riding? If your daughter chooses to be girly it doesn’t mean she’s shallow.

Last edited 9 months ago by Sue Ward
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
9 months ago
Reply to  Sue Ward

You are right, and “shallow” probably a bad word to use. But I would plead that the fault isn’t mine, it’s certain very vociferous voices in our society who elevate activities typically done by men – sports, coding, computer games – to be something precious and superior, which girls must attain – and a lot of gnashing of teeth because it’s still mostly men in those spheres, ignoring the fact that girls are mostly just not interested.

And I do agree that it’s nonsense, and having an interest in cooking is no less of a hobby than football. But I am constantly bombarded with messaging that says that cooking, sewing, netball is somehow inferior and women doing those are somehow losing out, and it’s difficult to avoid being sucked in.

That being said, I would still maintain that it’s nice for girls to at least take an interest and try out what’s “boy” stuff (and vice versa, I don’t see any reason why boys can figure out cooking etc). If eventually she decides that’s not for her, fair enough.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Trouble with sports culture at boys’ schools is that each new coach they hire wants you to ‘at least consider’ his sport when all previous attempts have found that you have zero talent to match your total lack of interest.
They challenge this by saying ‘but if you were better at it, you’d be interested right?’ ‘Well, yeah, maybe, slightly, but I’m not.’ And then the circle continues as they try out with you, in hopes of finding some ability in you, in order to spur interest, seeing as cultivating interest in order to spur effort in becoming more able has failed.
At the heart of all this is discomfort about the recalcitrant group of boys who they well know are likely to be homosexual.

Last edited 9 months ago by Dumetrius
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

I don’t get how you arrived at homosexuality from your lack of interest in playing sports.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I was talking about their suspicions. It was true in my case, not true in others.

It really sucked to be heterosexual and uninterested in / bad at sport in that era.

Last edited 9 months ago by Dumetrius
Dumetrius
Dumetrius
9 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I was talking about their suspicions. It was true in my case, not true in others.

It really sucked to be heterosexual and uninterested in / bad at sport in that era.

Last edited 9 months ago by Dumetrius
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

I don’t get how you arrived at homosexuality from your lack of interest in playing sports.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I would hope that as a parent you would have enough backbone to be able to withstand social pressures and do what is ethical, so you set an example for your children when they are, inevitably, faced with difficult choices.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Trouble with sports culture at boys’ schools is that each new coach they hire wants you to ‘at least consider’ his sport when all previous attempts have found that you have zero talent to match your total lack of interest.
They challenge this by saying ‘but if you were better at it, you’d be interested right?’ ‘Well, yeah, maybe, slightly, but I’m not.’ And then the circle continues as they try out with you, in hopes of finding some ability in you, in order to spur interest, seeing as cultivating interest in order to spur effort in becoming more able has failed.
At the heart of all this is discomfort about the recalcitrant group of boys who they well know are likely to be homosexual.

Last edited 9 months ago by Dumetrius
Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I would hope that as a parent you would have enough backbone to be able to withstand social pressures and do what is ethical, so you set an example for your children when they are, inevitably, faced with difficult choices.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
9 months ago
Reply to  Sue Ward

But Sue, isn’t there a powerful strain of feminism that insists on measuring the success of their movement by reference to the extent to which women are participating in what you would call non-girly activities and occupations?

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 months ago

Yes – university professors who work 15 hours a week 8 months of the year say that other women have to work 60 hours a week on the partnership track at a law firm or engineering firm or they have let the side down.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
9 months ago

Yes – university professors who work 15 hours a week 8 months of the year say that other women have to work 60 hours a week on the partnership track at a law firm or engineering firm or they have let the side down.

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
9 months ago
Reply to  Sue Ward

I don’t like football and like it played not very well even less. I don’t like women’s football but if people do, that’s not a problem.
What I don’t get is why it’s feminist not to value women and what women do well. Why is it feminist to celebrate women doing something devised by and for men in the 19th century, aping some of the worst aspects of male behaviour and crippling yourself to boot?
And why I get stony silence or outright abuse if I politely say I don’t like women’s football? To be honest, it hasn’t been much of a problem; hardly anyone has mentioned it during this World Cup despite this alleged massive interest.

Last edited 9 months ago by Helen Nevitt
Robert Routledge
Robert Routledge
9 months ago
Reply to  Sue Ward

Maybe some girls/women love football and see no reason to not only watch football but play it too!! Some of which are good enough to be paid to play football so are they really trying to prove something or just love football?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago

Well said.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
8 months ago

spot on.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago

Well said.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
8 months ago

spot on.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
9 months ago
Reply to  Sue Ward

You are right, and “shallow” probably a bad word to use. But I would plead that the fault isn’t mine, it’s certain very vociferous voices in our society who elevate activities typically done by men – sports, coding, computer games – to be something precious and superior, which girls must attain – and a lot of gnashing of teeth because it’s still mostly men in those spheres, ignoring the fact that girls are mostly just not interested.

And I do agree that it’s nonsense, and having an interest in cooking is no less of a hobby than football. But I am constantly bombarded with messaging that says that cooking, sewing, netball is somehow inferior and women doing those are somehow losing out, and it’s difficult to avoid being sucked in.

That being said, I would still maintain that it’s nice for girls to at least take an interest and try out what’s “boy” stuff (and vice versa, I don’t see any reason why boys can figure out cooking etc). If eventually she decides that’s not for her, fair enough.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
9 months ago
Reply to  Sue Ward

But Sue, isn’t there a powerful strain of feminism that insists on measuring the success of their movement by reference to the extent to which women are participating in what you would call non-girly activities and occupations?

Helen Nevitt
Helen Nevitt
9 months ago
Reply to  Sue Ward

I don’t like football and like it played not very well even less. I don’t like women’s football but if people do, that’s not a problem.
What I don’t get is why it’s feminist not to value women and what women do well. Why is it feminist to celebrate women doing something devised by and for men in the 19th century, aping some of the worst aspects of male behaviour and crippling yourself to boot?
And why I get stony silence or outright abuse if I politely say I don’t like women’s football? To be honest, it hasn’t been much of a problem; hardly anyone has mentioned it during this World Cup despite this alleged massive interest.

Last edited 9 months ago by Helen Nevitt
Robert Routledge
Robert Routledge
9 months ago
Reply to  Sue Ward

Maybe some girls/women love football and see no reason to not only watch football but play it too!! Some of which are good enough to be paid to play football so are they really trying to prove something or just love football?

Keith Raymond
Keith Raymond
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I like the women’s game because there’s more time playing and less time thrashing on the pitch looking for penalties.

N Satori
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Ignore the slobbering sentimentalists Iker – and no sport provokes slobbering sentimentaliity as effectively as “the beautiful game” (yuk!). Your comment holds true.
The current mania is more about the loud clanking feminist propaganda machine than the game itself. With every pundit and his progressive wife straining to display their support for those sentimentally dubbed “Lionesses”, you just know where the next contest will be fought: in the arena of equity in financial rewards, equity in celebrity status, equity in media exposure, equity in everything they can get away with.
Yet, if in five to ten years, girls fail to show the widespread, patriarchy-challenging, enthusiasm for soccer that feminists expect of them then social conditioning will be blamed (of course).

Last edited 9 months ago by N Satori
Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“It’s all about how women’s football must be treated at par with men, and how it’s unacceptable that football roughly equivalent to the 3rd tier division 1 or worse doesn’t get the same audiences and pay as Messi and co.”

There’s a difference between equal performance and equal respect.

In most sports men have an average performance advantage and therefore at the elite end men will overwhelmingly beat women. This is evident in everything from tennis club pyramids to park run times to Olympic finals. But it doesn’t mean female athletes are less worthy of respect. An exceptional female athlete is an exceptional athlete.

As for earning as much as Messi, I’ve never seen anyone suggest that. If I did I wouldn’t agree with it. Messi’s salary is driven by his value within the men’s football economy which is still much bigger than women’s.

What I do hope is that the popularity and financial value of women’s football (and other sports) continues to grow and as a result the players in turn benefit from increased financial rewards.

If, for the sake of argument, in 10 years time women’s football is as popular and financially lucrative as men’s, then I would see no problem in the best female players being paid “as much as Messi”.

Dominic S
Dominic S
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

That men have a massive performance advantage DOES matter. People want to watch the best. People want to pay for the best, and simply are not interested in second best.

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

You massively overstate the case.
I agree people are more interested in the best (in raw performance terms) and will pay a premium to watch the best. That’s why, for example, the men’s 100 metres final is watched y more people than the women’s. The men’s 100 metres champion is the fastest human, whereas the women’s 100 metres champion is the fastest woman.
But there’s a massive amount of room between the best and “not interested”. There are lots of examples of sports which thrive in that space: The English Championship (our 2nd tier) gets higher attendances some many major 1st tier leagues. Master’s golf is massively popular and lucrative. Champions flyweights still draw crowds even though they couldn’t beat a moderate heavyweight.
And of course, women’s football attendance, viewing etc are all growing, Will it ever be as big as men’s football? No, I doubt it ever will be and some of that is down to the raw performance gap. But there’s plenty of room to grow that interest into and make it to be a viable, lucrative sport for its participants.

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

He’s right. It’s an entertainment business. Like West End shows or concerts. There’s no case for “equal pay” when the product or service being offered is of a lower quality. You don’t even get “equal pay” within a team.
I do hope the women’s game does grow, develop and improve. But it’s a delusion – actually a fraud – to pretend it’s the same as the men’s professional game today. I don’t think the hangers-on pushing that line are actually doing the women’s game any favours.

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

He’s right. It’s an entertainment business. Like West End shows or concerts. There’s no case for “equal pay” when the product or service being offered is of a lower quality. You don’t even get “equal pay” within a team.
I do hope the women’s game does grow, develop and improve. But it’s a delusion – actually a fraud – to pretend it’s the same as the men’s professional game today. I don’t think the hangers-on pushing that line are actually doing the women’s game any favours.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Why do they flock to watch Spurs then?

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

You massively overstate the case.
I agree people are more interested in the best (in raw performance terms) and will pay a premium to watch the best. That’s why, for example, the men’s 100 metres final is watched y more people than the women’s. The men’s 100 metres champion is the fastest human, whereas the women’s 100 metres champion is the fastest woman.
But there’s a massive amount of room between the best and “not interested”. There are lots of examples of sports which thrive in that space: The English Championship (our 2nd tier) gets higher attendances some many major 1st tier leagues. Master’s golf is massively popular and lucrative. Champions flyweights still draw crowds even though they couldn’t beat a moderate heavyweight.
And of course, women’s football attendance, viewing etc are all growing, Will it ever be as big as men’s football? No, I doubt it ever will be and some of that is down to the raw performance gap. But there’s plenty of room to grow that interest into and make it to be a viable, lucrative sport for its participants.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
8 months ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Why do they flock to watch Spurs then?

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

Just curious – why so many downvotes here?

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Stoll

“Just curious – why so many downvotes here?”

Democracy means even people who are wrong get to vote 😉

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Stoll

“Just curious – why so many downvotes here?”

Democracy means even people who are wrong get to vote 😉

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

“But it doesn’t mean female athletes are less worthy of respect. ”
It isn’t their lack of ability that makes them less worthy of respect.
It’s their behaviour.

A weak EPL team, playing against City or Liverpool, will do their best and work hard to win, rather than complain about how their opponents are paid more or shown more on TV.

Female footballers, on the other hand:
A. Refuse to compete against men, and demand a separate league to avoid direct competition.
B. Are loudmouthed about how they are “as good” as the men they don’t have the guts to face directly.
C. Get thrashed, not by top men’s football teams, but by under -16 local or school boys or Wrexham FC.
D. Get paid much more than the men versus revenues earned, receive way more TV coverage and publicity relative to performance, while still being obnoxious and ungrateful.
E. After winning a competition against other WOMEN, start shrieking how they should be paid as much as men, and given the same status as a male footballer who proves himself against the best in the world.

Can you imagined if a bunch of men behaved like that, how much “respect” they would receive?

Last edited 9 months ago by Samir Iker
Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Maaaaate.

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“A weak EPL team, playing against City or Liverpool, will do their best and work hard to win, rather than complain about how their opponents are paid more or shown more on TV.”
That’s hilarious. PL clubs complain all the time about the advantages of Big Clubs: from favourable refereeing decisions to, in Arsene Wenger’s words, “financial doping” by oligarchs. UEFA even have Financial Fair Play rules to try to even out these disparities, which don’t work but nevertheless.
In response to your other points. For a start, women don’t refuse to play against men. They are not allowed to by the rules. But regardless of that, why would any one expect them to given the known performance advantages of men?
I’m sure there are some examples, because you can find anything on the internet, but I’ve never heard a woman footballer seriously argue that football should be a mixed sex sport, like 3-day eventing. They are as realistic about the performance gap between men and women as anyone (except the sort of fanatics who deny reality) because they see it all the time.
By and large the financial demands of women footballers are not for the same pay as the top men (although of course you can always find odd examples because internet). What they want is to be able to have a viable career and be rewarded for their success. This covers not just remuneration but also things like access to training facilities and so on.
At the moment the average pay for a woman footballer is less than the average pay for a League 2 male footballer. By some measures this is fine, because League 2 crowds are higher. But when it comes to major championships, there is perfectly good argument that women footballers should be paid a lot more, because their labour is filling big stadiums and drawing big TV audiences. 17 million people in the UK watched the Women’s European Cup final. Why shouldn’t the footballers – who are the workers in this scenario – not be rewarded accordingly?
What’s more there is a perfectly good argument for putting more money into women’s football, and therefore wages, as an investment. Those European championships were watched by more than double the previous event in 2017. There is a huge opportunity to grow the women’s game, especially at international level, which will attract broadcaster and sponsor interest who should be all over the possibility of opening up the market for selling things to female participants, which is a largely untapped market.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Women don’t refuse to play against men. The fact is that in contact sports women would be in physical danger playing against the men. That is why we have separate categories for male and female.
You say you have a daughter? It would not be good to transmit mixed messgaes to her On one hand wantng her to take part in traditionally ‘male activities’ lest she be too ‘girly’ – but then simultaneously communicatiing disrespect for her doing so, and especially when she is not as successful as some men at those activities.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

Well, not arguing for mixed sex competition, doesn’t make any sense.

But it’s ridiculous to pretend that girls are as physically strong and good at football, or even interested, as is being propogated.

My girl has always been much more mentally mature and better at verbal and writing skills than the boys around her.

That doesn’t make me feel inferior as a man. That’s just biology, and girls will be better or worse than boys in different aspects.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

Well, not arguing for mixed sex competition, doesn’t make any sense.

But it’s ridiculous to pretend that girls are as physically strong and good at football, or even interested, as is being propogated.

My girl has always been much more mentally mature and better at verbal and writing skills than the boys around her.

That doesn’t make me feel inferior as a man. That’s just biology, and girls will be better or worse than boys in different aspects.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Maaaaate.

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“A weak EPL team, playing against City or Liverpool, will do their best and work hard to win, rather than complain about how their opponents are paid more or shown more on TV.”
That’s hilarious. PL clubs complain all the time about the advantages of Big Clubs: from favourable refereeing decisions to, in Arsene Wenger’s words, “financial doping” by oligarchs. UEFA even have Financial Fair Play rules to try to even out these disparities, which don’t work but nevertheless.
In response to your other points. For a start, women don’t refuse to play against men. They are not allowed to by the rules. But regardless of that, why would any one expect them to given the known performance advantages of men?
I’m sure there are some examples, because you can find anything on the internet, but I’ve never heard a woman footballer seriously argue that football should be a mixed sex sport, like 3-day eventing. They are as realistic about the performance gap between men and women as anyone (except the sort of fanatics who deny reality) because they see it all the time.
By and large the financial demands of women footballers are not for the same pay as the top men (although of course you can always find odd examples because internet). What they want is to be able to have a viable career and be rewarded for their success. This covers not just remuneration but also things like access to training facilities and so on.
At the moment the average pay for a woman footballer is less than the average pay for a League 2 male footballer. By some measures this is fine, because League 2 crowds are higher. But when it comes to major championships, there is perfectly good argument that women footballers should be paid a lot more, because their labour is filling big stadiums and drawing big TV audiences. 17 million people in the UK watched the Women’s European Cup final. Why shouldn’t the footballers – who are the workers in this scenario – not be rewarded accordingly?
What’s more there is a perfectly good argument for putting more money into women’s football, and therefore wages, as an investment. Those European championships were watched by more than double the previous event in 2017. There is a huge opportunity to grow the women’s game, especially at international level, which will attract broadcaster and sponsor interest who should be all over the possibility of opening up the market for selling things to female participants, which is a largely untapped market.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Women don’t refuse to play against men. The fact is that in contact sports women would be in physical danger playing against the men. That is why we have separate categories for male and female.
You say you have a daughter? It would not be good to transmit mixed messgaes to her On one hand wantng her to take part in traditionally ‘male activities’ lest she be too ‘girly’ – but then simultaneously communicatiing disrespect for her doing so, and especially when she is not as successful as some men at those activities.

Christopher Thompson
Christopher Thompson
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

“In most sports men have an average performance advantage and therefore at the elite end men will overwhelmingly beat women”.
Not just at the elite end – in 2017, while preparing for two friendlies against Russia the U.S. women’s national team played the FC Dallas U-15 boys academy team and lost 5-2.

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago

Yes, I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise. Although I would also point out that the FC Dallas U15 also count as elite as they are on an elite pathway.
There is something of a performance multiplier effect to team sports. Football, for example, combines many of the ways which men typically have a performance advantage over women (average height, speed, power, jumping etc) but multiplies it across 11 participants plus subs. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that even the elite women’s team’s lose to male age group teams.
The point however, is that this does not make women’s football unworthy of respect. It is simply a fact that human biology sets a ceiling for women relative to men.

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

At the end of the day, respect has to be earned. You can’t just go out there and demand it because you think you somehow deserve it.
I saw this today at the Athletics World Cup. A female UK 100m runner made the worst false start I’ve ever seen. She protested and ran under protest. And was then disqualified. Her behaviour was not directly challenged by the saintly BBC commentators (who polirtely glossed over the fact that her challenge was ridiculous). Later, a top male South African 100m runner marginally false started in a semi-final. He accepted the decision and withdrew immediately. I can respect the second athlete. But not the first. Note: the gender is irrelevant for me here – it’s the behaviour that counts.

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

At the end of the day, respect has to be earned. You can’t just go out there and demand it because you think you somehow deserve it.
I saw this today at the Athletics World Cup. A female UK 100m runner made the worst false start I’ve ever seen. She protested and ran under protest. And was then disqualified. Her behaviour was not directly challenged by the saintly BBC commentators (who polirtely glossed over the fact that her challenge was ridiculous). Later, a top male South African 100m runner marginally false started in a semi-final. He accepted the decision and withdrew immediately. I can respect the second athlete. But not the first. Note: the gender is irrelevant for me here – it’s the behaviour that counts.

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago

Yes, I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise. Although I would also point out that the FC Dallas U15 also count as elite as they are on an elite pathway.
There is something of a performance multiplier effect to team sports. Football, for example, combines many of the ways which men typically have a performance advantage over women (average height, speed, power, jumping etc) but multiplies it across 11 participants plus subs. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that even the elite women’s team’s lose to male age group teams.
The point however, is that this does not make women’s football unworthy of respect. It is simply a fact that human biology sets a ceiling for women relative to men.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

Quite! Female excellence is female excellence – it doesn’t need to be compared to male excellence. A top female athlete is every bit as committed and hard working as her male counterparts.Of course men are bigger and stronger and the fastest will far out run any woman – but that doesn’t make male sports necessarily any ‘better’.

I have no interest in women’s football, though.

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

“A top female athlete is every bit as committed and hard working as her male counterparts.”

Sometimes more so, I would suggest. In the premium sports like football, elite male prospects have pretty much everything in life taken care of for them from their early teens. Few female prospects get that treatment (perhaps some tennis players). They have to juggle jobs, study etc.

And of course women athletes have to deal with periods and if they choose to have children they have to manage those physical and emotional demands. None of which are an issue for men.

Relatively speaking it’s much harder to make a living from sports as a woman. I can’t remember the exact figure but it’s something like 10x as many men in the UK do so. The very least we can do is show the ones that do some respect.

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

“A top female athlete is every bit as committed and hard working as her male counterparts.”

Sometimes more so, I would suggest. In the premium sports like football, elite male prospects have pretty much everything in life taken care of for them from their early teens. Few female prospects get that treatment (perhaps some tennis players). They have to juggle jobs, study etc.

And of course women athletes have to deal with periods and if they choose to have children they have to manage those physical and emotional demands. None of which are an issue for men.

Relatively speaking it’s much harder to make a living from sports as a woman. I can’t remember the exact figure but it’s something like 10x as many men in the UK do so. The very least we can do is show the ones that do some respect.

Dominic S
Dominic S
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

That men have a massive performance advantage DOES matter. People want to watch the best. People want to pay for the best, and simply are not interested in second best.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

Just curious – why so many downvotes here?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

“But it doesn’t mean female athletes are less worthy of respect. ”
It isn’t their lack of ability that makes them less worthy of respect.
It’s their behaviour.

A weak EPL team, playing against City or Liverpool, will do their best and work hard to win, rather than complain about how their opponents are paid more or shown more on TV.

Female footballers, on the other hand:
A. Refuse to compete against men, and demand a separate league to avoid direct competition.
B. Are loudmouthed about how they are “as good” as the men they don’t have the guts to face directly.
C. Get thrashed, not by top men’s football teams, but by under -16 local or school boys or Wrexham FC.
D. Get paid much more than the men versus revenues earned, receive way more TV coverage and publicity relative to performance, while still being obnoxious and ungrateful.
E. After winning a competition against other WOMEN, start shrieking how they should be paid as much as men, and given the same status as a male footballer who proves himself against the best in the world.

Can you imagined if a bunch of men behaved like that, how much “respect” they would receive?

Last edited 9 months ago by Samir Iker
Christopher Thompson
Christopher Thompson
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

“In most sports men have an average performance advantage and therefore at the elite end men will overwhelmingly beat women”.
Not just at the elite end – in 2017, while preparing for two friendlies against Russia the U.S. women’s national team played the FC Dallas U-15 boys academy team and lost 5-2.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
9 months ago
Reply to  Richard M

Quite! Female excellence is female excellence – it doesn’t need to be compared to male excellence. A top female athlete is every bit as committed and hard working as her male counterparts.Of course men are bigger and stronger and the fastest will far out run any woman – but that doesn’t make male sports necessarily any ‘better’.

I have no interest in women’s football, though.

Dominic S
Dominic S
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Agreed.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Quit pushing the game on the USA.

Gayle Buhler
Gayle Buhler
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I agree with most of what you wrote except for your equating girly being shallow. Sounds like your desired goal is masculinized females. I don’t understand why traditionally female pursuits have to be demonized. Feminism in the 70s was about choice – we had none then. Now it seems like we once again have only one acceptable female choice – to be as much like men as possible so we can dispense with them.

Allan Meats
Allan Meats
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Not watching Australia v Sweden yesterday then?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I feel badly for your daughter that you are “”constantly” pushing her toward things that she may not be interested in, for fear that she may turn out “girly’. I’m sure she will naturally gravitate to what interests her and what she has a natural aptitude for. Constantly pushing a child into an activity is counter productive. Allow her to trust her own instincts and intuition instead of trying to control her. You’ll have a much better relationship.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

“pushing her toward things that she may not be interested in, for fear that she may turn out “girly’. ”
That’s not the idea, and frankly I would love it if she turned out girly – daughters are great!

But the idea is to push her to try things. Just try.
And if she doesn’t like some of those, fine.

She doesn’t like dancing – after a year of dance practice!
On the other hand, she does love dolls – and computer gaming, Lego, maths…..
What I find a bit negative is how many young girls don’t even get any exposure to football, gaming, etc.
How do you know if you like something if you don’t even try it?

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
8 months ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

“pushing her toward things that she may not be interested in, for fear that she may turn out “girly’. ”
That’s not the idea, and frankly I would love it if she turned out girly – daughters are great!

But the idea is to push her to try things. Just try.
And if she doesn’t like some of those, fine.

She doesn’t like dancing – after a year of dance practice!
On the other hand, she does love dolls – and computer gaming, Lego, maths…..
What I find a bit negative is how many young girls don’t even get any exposure to football, gaming, etc.
How do you know if you like something if you don’t even try it?

Deborah Grant
Deborah Grant
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

It isn’t inferior to the men’s game, it’s different – but good. My husband watches it, as he does top women’s golf, because they are so good.

We’re more than half the population, and many of us older women would’ve loved to have played soccer at school – I used to scuff my shoes playing on thr netball court at lunchtime. This global trend isn’t going away. It will increase participation in sport, especially if it’s included in the school curriculum – and heaven knows, lardy ass westerners need it.

harry storm
harry storm
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I’m not sure this article celebrates women’s football as much as you think it does. I’m not even sure it’s particularly “progressive.” And I see no evidence the author supports equal pay for women players, or trans players in women’s football or other sports.

Last edited 8 months ago by harry storm
Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

How in the name of sanity do you manage to shoehorn immigrants and wokeness into a sneering post about women’s football?
What’s the point of you mate
https://ayenaw.com/2023/08/19/world-cup-final/

Tony Price
Tony Price
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Women’s football is not ‘inferior’ to men’s, it’s different. And ‘standards of women’s sports are abysmal compared to men’ – absolute b0oll0cks! I referee women’s rugby a fair bit at, assorted lower levels, and they are usually techinically superior to the equivalent men’s standard (‘cos they listen to their coaches!) if a tad slower and they cheat less (makes it easier to ref) – and also obviously enjoy it more than the boys.

Watch top international women’s rugby and tell me it ain’t physical!

BTW I agree that pay should be linked to income generated. Professional sport is not a game, it’s paid-for entertainment.

Last edited 9 months ago by Tony Price
Sue Ward
Sue Ward
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Interesting conflation of girly and shallow. Is it shallow to be able to cook? Is coding more worthy than being able to draw or sew? Why must girls be forced into traditionally male sports at the expense of say netball, ballet, horse riding? If your daughter chooses to be girly it doesn’t mean she’s shallow.

Last edited 9 months ago by Sue Ward
Keith Raymond
Keith Raymond
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I like the women’s game because there’s more time playing and less time thrashing on the pitch looking for penalties.

N Satori
N Satori
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Ignore the slobbering sentimentalists Iker – and no sport provokes slobbering sentimentaliity as effectively as “the beautiful game” (yuk!). Your comment holds true.
The current mania is more about the loud clanking feminist propaganda machine than the game itself. With every pundit and his progressive wife straining to display their support for those sentimentally dubbed “Lionesses”, you just know where the next contest will be fought: in the arena of equity in financial rewards, equity in celebrity status, equity in media exposure, equity in everything they can get away with.
Yet, if in five to ten years, girls fail to show the widespread, patriarchy-challenging, enthusiasm for soccer that feminists expect of them then social conditioning will be blamed (of course).

Last edited 9 months ago by N Satori
Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“It’s all about how women’s football must be treated at par with men, and how it’s unacceptable that football roughly equivalent to the 3rd tier division 1 or worse doesn’t get the same audiences and pay as Messi and co.”

There’s a difference between equal performance and equal respect.

In most sports men have an average performance advantage and therefore at the elite end men will overwhelmingly beat women. This is evident in everything from tennis club pyramids to park run times to Olympic finals. But it doesn’t mean female athletes are less worthy of respect. An exceptional female athlete is an exceptional athlete.

As for earning as much as Messi, I’ve never seen anyone suggest that. If I did I wouldn’t agree with it. Messi’s salary is driven by his value within the men’s football economy which is still much bigger than women’s.

What I do hope is that the popularity and financial value of women’s football (and other sports) continues to grow and as a result the players in turn benefit from increased financial rewards.

If, for the sake of argument, in 10 years time women’s football is as popular and financially lucrative as men’s, then I would see no problem in the best female players being paid “as much as Messi”.

Dominic S
Dominic S
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Agreed.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Quit pushing the game on the USA.

Gayle Buhler
Gayle Buhler
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I agree with most of what you wrote except for your equating girly being shallow. Sounds like your desired goal is masculinized females. I don’t understand why traditionally female pursuits have to be demonized. Feminism in the 70s was about choice – we had none then. Now it seems like we once again have only one acceptable female choice – to be as much like men as possible so we can dispense with them.

Allan Meats
Allan Meats
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Not watching Australia v Sweden yesterday then?

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I feel badly for your daughter that you are “”constantly” pushing her toward things that she may not be interested in, for fear that she may turn out “girly’. I’m sure she will naturally gravitate to what interests her and what she has a natural aptitude for. Constantly pushing a child into an activity is counter productive. Allow her to trust her own instincts and intuition instead of trying to control her. You’ll have a much better relationship.

Deborah Grant
Deborah Grant
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

It isn’t inferior to the men’s game, it’s different – but good. My husband watches it, as he does top women’s golf, because they are so good.

We’re more than half the population, and many of us older women would’ve loved to have played soccer at school – I used to scuff my shoes playing on thr netball court at lunchtime. This global trend isn’t going away. It will increase participation in sport, especially if it’s included in the school curriculum – and heaven knows, lardy ass westerners need it.

harry storm
harry storm
8 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I’m not sure this article celebrates women’s football as much as you think it does. I’m not even sure it’s particularly “progressive.” And I see no evidence the author supports equal pay for women players, or trans players in women’s football or other sports.

Last edited 8 months ago by harry storm
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
9 months ago

The basic premise of this piece is rather stretched and nonsensical. What surprises me though is that commenters here are taken aback by this – as it should be very obvious that women’s football, how it’s viewed and it’s media coverage, has been hijacked by “progressives” and politicised. Of course it has to be about “inclusion”, the “wider significance”, how it’s good that England fans are watching women’s football even though it’s inferior compared to men, simply out of pride for nation – while simultaneously deriding that concept of national pride and joy because it’s icky and Brexitey.

Now, I have a daughter who I constantly push towards stuff like gaming, coding, tech, football – not to “compete” against boys but to ensure she doesn’t grow up all girly and shallow.
But it’s very evident when it comes to football or cricket, she and other girls I know have very little interest (in contrast to boys her own age).

And it’s also fairly obvious that the standards of women’s sports are abysmal compared to men. Biology, and bodies tuned to ease childbirth rather than throwing stuff.

But, if you follow the coverage, and it’s quite overwhelming media coverage (which should be a clue), the message is not “there is some tournament on, watch it if interested, England winning hurrah”. It’s all about how women’s football must be treated at par with men, and how it’s unacceptable that football roughly equivalent to the 3rd tier division 1 or worse doesn’t get the same audiences and pay as Messi and co.

The ones pushing that stuff are exactly – almost precisely – the same idiots who think it’s awful that we don’t just let boatloads of immigrants jump over to Western countries (while they themselves stay in mostly white upper class gated suburbs), believe in multiculturalism or think Brexiteers are the spawn of Satan.

Hence articles like this.

And whether it’s “very good news for women’s football” is questionable, because this same lot of people would also support trans – of course they would.
So we might hilariously end up with women’s footballers being artificially brought closer to par with men pay wise – while simultaneously being overrun with 3rd rate men pretending to be women.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago

It’s a game. Geez. If your team does well and it’s exciting, interest in the sport grows, and that’s always good. The nation feels a sweet sense of pride momentarily, which is good as well. But that’s about it, outside of some narrow exceptions.

And what’s with this? “ At the time, it was claimed that Freeman’s success heralded a new, more inclusive Australia, yet just a year later the Australian government turned away the Tampa, a Norwegian freighter laden with asylum seekers it had rescued from the seas north of Christmas Island.”

Another ideological spin on the meaning of inclusivity. And why on god’s green earth would an athletic endeavor have any impact on political policy?

Richard Gasson
Richard Gasson
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You took the words out of my mouth

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Sport has always had some cultural, and thus political, implications and impact on perceptions, going all the way back to c700BC and the first Olympics. Just a few examples – the impact of Berlin 34 and Jesse Owens; Muhammad Ali in the 60s, 70s; the use of sport to demonstrate national superiority whether Russia, East Germany, China now, or the USA; the Generals use of 78 Argentinian WC to strengthen their hold on power; ‘War minus the shooting’ as Orwell said, albeit the context in 49 when he wrote that was somewhat different.
The gradual move to equality in sport for Women, with worldwide coverage including to parts of the world where repression of women much worse, has a much bigger impact than many men instinctively grasp.
There are of course hundreds more such examples.

Last edited 9 months ago by j watson
Richard Gasson
Richard Gasson
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You took the words out of my mouth

j watson
j watson
9 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Sport has always had some cultural, and thus political, implications and impact on perceptions, going all the way back to c700BC and the first Olympics. Just a few examples – the impact of Berlin 34 and Jesse Owens; Muhammad Ali in the 60s, 70s; the use of sport to demonstrate national superiority whether Russia, East Germany, China now, or the USA; the Generals use of 78 Argentinian WC to strengthen their hold on power; ‘War minus the shooting’ as Orwell said, albeit the context in 49 when he wrote that was somewhat different.
The gradual move to equality in sport for Women, with worldwide coverage including to parts of the world where repression of women much worse, has a much bigger impact than many men instinctively grasp.
There are of course hundreds more such examples.

Last edited 9 months ago by j watson
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago

It’s a game. Geez. If your team does well and it’s exciting, interest in the sport grows, and that’s always good. The nation feels a sweet sense of pride momentarily, which is good as well. But that’s about it, outside of some narrow exceptions.

And what’s with this? “ At the time, it was claimed that Freeman’s success heralded a new, more inclusive Australia, yet just a year later the Australian government turned away the Tampa, a Norwegian freighter laden with asylum seekers it had rescued from the seas north of Christmas Island.”

Another ideological spin on the meaning of inclusivity. And why on god’s green earth would an athletic endeavor have any impact on political policy?

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago

…so Australians en masse paying attention to one of their own in the Olympics, didn’t transpond into compassion for a boatload of would be illegal migrants? Huh? Only a deeply racist mind could connive that connection.

Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Quite.
One action was about symbolically resetting the treatment of indigenous Australian people.
The other was about upholding the lawfully and democratically determined immigration policy of Australia.
The worst part of an otherwise generally good article. And totally unnecessary.

Last edited 9 months ago by Peter B
Peter B
Peter B
9 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Quite.
One action was about symbolically resetting the treatment of indigenous Australian people.
The other was about upholding the lawfully and democratically determined immigration policy of Australia.
The worst part of an otherwise generally good article. And totally unnecessary.

Last edited 9 months ago by Peter B
Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago

…so Australians en masse paying attention to one of their own in the Olympics, didn’t transpond into compassion for a boatload of would be illegal migrants? Huh? Only a deeply racist mind could connive that connection.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
9 months ago

I watched the last women’s World Cup avidly, because my teenage daughter was then into football. It was quite interesting, and at times I really enjoyed what the women had brought to the game: more courtesy, lower levels of fouling and play-acting, some nice set-pieces and accurate square passing out to the wing.
Then, when it was all over, I watched a few men’s games again (I’ve never been a consistent fan of the game) and found them to be far more exciting and entertaining, with some real flashes of something close to genius.
For me, the most interesting feature of this whole tournament is how desperate the BBC are to portray the women’s game as the equal of the men’s game. It’s verged on gaslighting at times. The desire to spin a narrative about female equality is far more evident than any attempt to just report on the game and let people make up their own minds.

Jonathan N
Jonathan N
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

The England women would be beaten by an U14 boys team from any of the Premiership academies. But its still an entertaining watch, and I can get behind them for the Final. Come on England!!

Dominic S
Dominic S
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

From a referee’s perspective let me tell you that women are NOT more courteous, nor do they ‘play nicer’.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

We must never forget that the champion US women’s team was soundly beaten by a team of 15 yr old Texan males, soon after they won it all last time.

It’s nice that most nations are now encouraging women’s soccer (the original English name of the sport), but comparing them to the brilliance of the world-class men’s teams is a waste of time.

John Dee
John Dee
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

An individual game could be misleading. The Spanish women footballers were trounced 4 goals to nil by the Japanese, yet the English ladies couldn’t hit the net once against them.

John Dee
John Dee
8 months ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

An individual game could be misleading. The Spanish women footballers were trounced 4 goals to nil by the Japanese, yet the English ladies couldn’t hit the net once against them.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Some of the roots of transgender ideology lie in the denial of any inherent difference between the sexes. The problem is that for women to be valued they are held to male standards of performance and behaviour – and female qualities are utterly devalued – unless they are performed by men who adopt female personas and identities ( and the roots of that lie in the sexualisation of women).
Equality should not have to mean ‘sameness’ – but about accommodating differences too.

Jonathan N
Jonathan N
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

The England women would be beaten by an U14 boys team from any of the Premiership academies. But its still an entertaining watch, and I can get behind them for the Final. Come on England!!

Dominic S
Dominic S
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

From a referee’s perspective let me tell you that women are NOT more courteous, nor do they ‘play nicer’.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

We must never forget that the champion US women’s team was soundly beaten by a team of 15 yr old Texan males, soon after they won it all last time.

It’s nice that most nations are now encouraging women’s soccer (the original English name of the sport), but comparing them to the brilliance of the world-class men’s teams is a waste of time.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

Some of the roots of transgender ideology lie in the denial of any inherent difference between the sexes. The problem is that for women to be valued they are held to male standards of performance and behaviour – and female qualities are utterly devalued – unless they are performed by men who adopt female personas and identities ( and the roots of that lie in the sexualisation of women).
Equality should not have to mean ‘sameness’ – but about accommodating differences too.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
9 months ago

I watched the last women’s World Cup avidly, because my teenage daughter was then into football. It was quite interesting, and at times I really enjoyed what the women had brought to the game: more courtesy, lower levels of fouling and play-acting, some nice set-pieces and accurate square passing out to the wing.
Then, when it was all over, I watched a few men’s games again (I’ve never been a consistent fan of the game) and found them to be far more exciting and entertaining, with some real flashes of something close to genius.
For me, the most interesting feature of this whole tournament is how desperate the BBC are to portray the women’s game as the equal of the men’s game. It’s verged on gaslighting at times. The desire to spin a narrative about female equality is far more evident than any attempt to just report on the game and let people make up their own minds.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
9 months ago

”Grandiose claims about deeper meaning aren’t always the answer”. I’m struggling to understand what the question might be ?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
9 months ago

”Grandiose claims about deeper meaning aren’t always the answer”. I’m struggling to understand what the question might be ?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
9 months ago

The author writes for the Guardian and Sports Illustrated, so I won’t be surprised if his next UnHerd article will be about how huge fat bikini models will end global warming and the patriarchy.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
9 months ago

The author writes for the Guardian and Sports Illustrated, so I won’t be surprised if his next UnHerd article will be about how huge fat bikini models will end global warming and the patriarchy.

George Wells
George Wells
9 months ago

Quite. Sack this writer with his miserable blather.
Sport, training, effort, achievement, role models for our girls – there are so many positive things to write about here.
Accusations of racism and negative energy need to be edited out so we can come to UnHerd to avoid this crap.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  George Wells

Really, you want to edit this stuff out? I don’t want an echo chamber. That’s not helpful to anyone.

John Dee
John Dee
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Agreed. Just because he might write for the Graun doesn’t mean he’s a bad person.

John Dee
John Dee
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Agreed. Just because he might write for the Graun doesn’t mean he’s a bad person.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
9 months ago
Reply to  George Wells

Really, you want to edit this stuff out? I don’t want an echo chamber. That’s not helpful to anyone.

George Wells
George Wells
9 months ago

Quite. Sack this writer with his miserable blather.
Sport, training, effort, achievement, role models for our girls – there are so many positive things to write about here.
Accusations of racism and negative energy need to be edited out so we can come to UnHerd to avoid this crap.

Robbie K
Robbie K
9 months ago

Again, it would be easy to be cynical but the context is important.

Has this awful author ever done a piece that is not cynical?
There’s no doubt that women’s football has launched the sport at grassroots, just go to the park and you’ll see girls playing organised matches every weekend, which was completely unheard of ten years ago.
The passion and energy is definitely present, let’s celebrate it.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I read some foolish remarks in this article, especially about the boat filled with would be migrants to Australia, but I didn’t detect cynicism, wokishness yes! His main theme was that the link between sports success and wider culture exists but is subtle – and we shouldn’t expect too much. Pretty banal I suppose, because I’d say that was fairly obvious.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The problem I see is that while you have some girls interested in organised matches and playing regularly (though still far fewer than men), interest beyond that group falls off dramatically among girls. Whereas among men, even those who aren’t actively playing, there is a lot of interest in the game.

What this means is that the young boys I know, after playing or watching football, discuss among themselves excitedly next day in school.

Whereas my daughter, after being dragged unwillingly to a football game to begin with, has zero interaction with the other girls in her school. I know, I asked her after every game that I took her.

Pity really, as it would be great for her to play and enjoy the sport (and not just for my selfish reasons!)

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I find that sport for girls is far better and stronger in single sex/girl only schools; and netball and hockey are just as worthwhile as football – in fact I’d much prefer it should we celebrate women’s sport beyond just football. I watched and enjoyed the netball world cup last week – I can’t say the same for women’s football.

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

“I’d much prefer it should we celebrate women’s sport beyond just football.”

I understand the sentiment but football is the big win. Its global profile and the money to be made, make it the most obvious route to winning over traditional sports fans, who are overwhelmingly male, and attracting a new generation of women to sport.

The women’s road race at the Worlds last week was a brilliant race. But even with it being in the UK and on the red button, I’d be amazed if it was watched by a 10th of the number who watched the match today.

Richard M
Richard M
9 months ago
Reply to  Jane Anderson

“I’d much prefer it should we celebrate women’s sport beyond just football.”

I understand the sentiment but football is the big win. Its global profile and the money to be made, make it the most obvious route to winning over traditional sports fans, who are overwhelmingly male, and attracting a new generation of women to sport.

The women’s road race at the Worlds last week was a brilliant race. But even with it being in the UK and on the red button, I’d be amazed if it was watched by a 10th of the number who watched the match today.

Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
9 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I find that sport for girls is far better and stronger in single sex/girl only schools; and netball and hockey are just as worthwhile as football – in fact I’d much prefer it should we celebrate women’s sport beyond just football. I watched and enjoyed the netball world cup last week – I can’t say the same for women’s football.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Well, “Bend It Like Beckham” is 21 years old, so not completely unheard of.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I read some foolish remarks in this article, especially about the boat filled with would be migrants to Australia, but I didn’t detect cynicism, wokishness yes! His main theme was that the link between sports success and wider culture exists but is subtle – and we shouldn’t expect too much. Pretty banal I suppose, because I’d say that was fairly obvious.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
9 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The problem I see is that while you have some girls interested in organised matches and playing regularly (though still far fewer than men), interest beyond that group falls off dramatically among girls. Whereas among men, even those who aren’t actively playing, there is a lot of interest in the game.

What this means is that the young boys I know, after playing or watching football, discuss among themselves excitedly next day in school.

Whereas my daughter, after being dragged unwillingly to a football game to begin with, has zero interaction with the other girls in her school. I know, I asked her after every game that I took her.

Pity really, as it would be great for her to play and enjoy the sport (and not just for my selfish reasons!)