There appears to be a fundamental difference between how the FA sees women and girls and how we see ourselves. Teaming up with Disney to ‘encourage more girls into the sport’ seems like a colourful PR stunt in order to look progressive. In actual fact, they are doing all of us a great disservice by assuming that this is the only way to encourage more girls into the sport.
Rather than assume that girls are only interested in playing or being princesses, maybe the FA could start properly funding female players? If they demonstrated to the public that women’s football is just as important as men’s football then perhaps young girls and women would have the opportunity to have the footballers themselves as idols and heroes rather than rely on fictional fairy tale characters.
Thanks to Sarah Maple; http://sarahmaple.com
The real issue right now in women’s football is twofold; when younger girls are playing football at primary school age, they can compete alongside young boys in mixed teams and as equals. As they approach adolescence, the opportunity to develop those skills further is severely limited with few or no teams for girls available for them to join whether that be at school or at a local club.
At a professional level, women’s teams are given a tiny fraction of the funding, publicity and support of equivalent men’s teams. Casey Stoney, Captain of the England women’s football team earns £25k per year (working extra jobs as well as playing football in order to support herself) whereas her male counterpart Wayne Rooney earns £15.6m per year.
On an international level, it’s just as bad; at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the prize money was £2m. Not bad you might say, until you realise that the men’s team were given £35m.
Taking a closer look at home, the England men’s team ranking is currently 13 in the world and yet the England women’s team is ranked at number 5. There’s also the fact that the women’s team have consistently got further than the men’s in every international competition in the last few years.
There have been a multitude of articles written in the last few years asking why this is with many counter arguments stating that because men’s football is more popular, it generates more cash. This seems completely counterintuitive because if a sport (or anything) is given little or no investment, how is it ever supposed to gain popularity and eventually generate a substantial income?
The history of women’s football is rich and varied; there are images from ancient Greece, Rome, China and Australia which depict women playing different versions of the game. In 1917, records show many Women’s Football teams were playing in local football grounds to capacity crowds, the same as the men’s games and generating similar revenues from gate receipts and additionally raising substantial amounts of money for charity. It was only in 1921 that the FA banned women from playing the sport as it was considered unseemly. So to say that no one is as interested in women’s football is historically inaccurate as English football proves that this is not the case.
Women and girls are already burdened with societal constraints which tell them to be ‘compassionate’ or ‘generous’ which are apparently the traits in Disney Princesses that we should all be learning from. Whilst there is nothing, in isolation, wrong about liking princesses or even wanting to be one, why is it assumed that this is all a girl wants to be?
As comedian Sameena Zehra puts it “What is a princess but a female who fell out of the right feudal vagina at the right time? The whole concept of princesses should be removed from society – it is part of the morally reprehensible system of fetishizing social inequality”.