Women's association football, usually known as women's football or women's soccer, is the most prominent team sport [ citation needed ] played by women around the globe. It is played at the professional level in numerous countries throughout the world and 176 national teams participate internationally.
A team sport includes any sport where individuals are organized into opposing teams which compete to win. Team members act together towards a shared objective. This can be done in a number of ways such as outscoring the opposing team. Team members set goals, make decisions, communicate, manage conflict, and solve problems in a supportive, trusting atmosphere in order to accomplish their objectives. Examples are basketball, volleyball, rugby, water polo, handball, lacrosse, cricket, baseball, wrestling and the various forms of football and hockey.
A woman is a female human being. The word woman is usually reserved for an adult, with girl being the usual term for a female child or adolescent. The plural women is also sometimes used for female humans, regardless of age, as in phrases such as "women's rights". Women with typical genetic development are usually capable of giving birth from puberty until menopause. There are also trans women, and intersex women.
The history of women's football has seen major competitions being launched at both the national and international levels. Women's football has faced many struggles throughout its history. Although its first golden age occurred in the United Kingdom in the early 1920s, with matches attracting large crowds (one match achieved over 50,000 spectators),The Football Association initiated a ban in 1921 that disallowed women's football games from taking place on the grounds used by its member clubs. This ban remained in effect until July 1971.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
The Football Association (FA) is the governing body of association football in England and the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory.
Women may have been playing football for as long as the game has existed. Evidence shows that a similar game (cuju) was played by women during the Han Dynasty (25–220 CE). Two female figures are depicted in Han Dynasty frescoes, playing Tsu Chu.There are, however, a number of opinions about the accuracy of dates, the earliest estimates at 5000 BCE. Reports of an annual match being played in Scotland are reported as early as the 1790s. The first match recorded by the Scottish Football Association took place in 1892 in Glasgow. In England, the first recorded game of football between women took place in 1895.
Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Unqualified, the word football normally means the form of football that is the most popular where the word is used. Sports commonly called football include association football ; gridiron football ; Australian rules football; rugby football ; and Gaelic football. These various forms of football are known as football codes.
Cuju or Ts'u-chü, an ancient Chinese football game, is the very earliest form of football. It is a competitive game that involves kicking a ball through an opening into a net. The use of hands is not allowed. Invented in the Han dynasty, it is recognized by FIFA as the earliest form of football for which there is evidence, being first mentioned as an exercise in a Chinese military work from 3rd–2nd century BC. It is also played in Korea, Japan and Vietnam.
The Scottish Football Association is the governing body of football in Scotland and has the ultimate responsibility for the control and development of football in Scotland. Members of the SFA include clubs in Scotland, affiliated national associations as well as local associations. It was formed in 1873, making it the second oldest national football association in the world. It is not to be confused with the Scottish Football Union, which is the name that the SRU was known by until the 1920s.
Association football, the modern game, also has documented early involvement of women. In Europe, it is possible that 12th-century French women played football as part of that era's folk games. An annual competition in Mid-Lothian, Scotland during the 1790s is reported, too.In 1863, football governing bodies introduced standardized rules to prohibit violence on the pitch, making it more socially acceptable for women to play.
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.
The most well-documented early European team was founded by activist Nettie Honeyball in England in 1894. It was named the British Ladies' Football Club. Honeyball and those like her paved the way for women's football. However the women's game was frowned upon by the British football associations, and continued without their support. It has been suggested that this was motivated by a perceived threat to the 'masculinity' of the game.
Nettie Honeyball, also referred to as Nettie J. Honeyball, was the founder of the British Ladies' Football Club, the first known women's association football club, and one of their players until spring 1895. The name Nettie Honeyball was a pseudonym, and her real name is unknown. Some people believe that her real name was Mary Hutson. When Honeyball formed the BLFC, she was living in Crouch End, but it is not known whether she was from the area. There have been suggestions that she may have been from a middle class family in Pimlico.
The British Ladies' Football Club was an all-woman football team formed in Great Britain in 1885. The team had as its patron Lady Florence Dixie, an aristocrat from Dumfries, and its first captain was Nettie Honeyball.
Women's football became popular on a large scale at the time of the First World War, when employment in heavy industry spurred the growth of the game, much as it had done for men fifty years earlier. A team from England played a team from Ireland on Boxing Day 1917 in front of a crowd of 20,000 spectators.The most successful team of the era was Dick, Kerr's Ladies of Preston, England. The team played in the first women's international matches in 1920, against a team from Paris, France, in April, and also made up most of the England team against a Scottish Ladies XI in 1920, winning 22-0.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
Boxing Day is a secular holiday celebrated the day after Christmas Day. It originated in the United Kingdom and is celebrated in a number of countries that previously formed part of the British Empire. Boxing Day is on 26 December, although the attached bank holiday or public holiday may take place either on that day or two days later.
Preston is a city and the administrative centre of Lancashire, England, on the north bank of the River Ribble.
Despite being more popular than some men's football events (one match saw a 53,000 strong crowd),women's football in England suffered a blow in 1921 when The Football Association outlawed the playing of the game on Association members' pitches, on the grounds that the game (as played by women) was distasteful. Some speculated that this may have also been due to envy of the large crowds that women's matches attracted. This led to the formation of the English Ladies Football Association and play moved to rugby grounds.
In August 1917, a tournament was launched for female munition workers' teams in northeast England. Officially titled the Tyne Wear & Tees Alfred Wood Munition Girls Cup, it was popularly known as The Munitionettes' Cup.The first winners of the trophy were Blyth Spartans, who defeated Bolckow Vaughan 5–0 in a replayed final tie at Middlesbrough on 18 May 1918 in front of a crowd of 22,000. The tournament ran for a second year in season 1918–19, the winners being the ladies of Palmer's shipyard in Jarrow, who defeated Christopher Brown's of Hartlepool 1–0 at St James' Park in Newcastle on 22 March 1919.
Following the FA ban on women's teams on 5 December 1921, the English Ladies' Football Association was formed.A silver cup was donated by the first president of the association, Len Bridgett. A total of 24 teams entered the first competition in the spring of 1922. The winners were Stoke Ladies who beat Doncaster and Bentley Ladies 3-1 on 24 June 1922.
In 1937 and 1938, the Dick, Kerr's Ladies F.C. played Edinburgh City Girls in the "Championship of Great Britain and the World". Dick Kerr won the 1937 and 38 competitions with 5-1 score lines. The 1939 competition however was a more organised affair and the Edinburgh City Girls beat Dick Kerr in Edinburgh 5-2. The City Girls followed this up with a 7-1 demolition of Glasgow Ladies Ladies in Falkirk to take the title.
The English Women's FA was formed in 1969 (as a result of the increased interest generated by the 1966 World Cup),and the FA's ban on matches being played on members' grounds was finally lifted in 1971. In the same year, UEFA recommended that the women's game should be taken under the control of the national associations in each country.
In 1970 an Italian ladies football federation, known as Federazione Femminile Italiana Giuoco Calcio or FFIGC, ran a "World Championships" tournament in Rome supported by the Martini and Rossi strong wine manufacturers, entirely without the involvement of FIFA or any of the common National associations.This event was at least partly played by clubs. But a somewhat more successful World Championships with national teams was hosted by Mexico the following year. The final (won by Denmark) was played at the famous Estadio Azteca, the largest arena in the entire Americas north of the Panama Canal at the time, in front of no less than 112.500 attenders.
On 17 April 1971, in the French town of Hazebrouck, the first official women's international football match was played between France and the Netherlands.
During the 1970s, Italy became the first country to introduce professional women's football players, on a part-time basis. Italy was also the first Country to import foreign Footballers from other Europeans countries, which raised the profile of the league. The most prominent players during that era included Sussanne Augustesen ( Denmark), Rose Reilly and Edna Neillis (Scotland), Anne O'Brian (Ireland) and Sanchez Freire (Spain).In 1985, the United States national soccer team was formed and in 1989, Japan became the first country to have a semi-professional women's football league, the L. League - still in existence today.
At the beginning of the 21st century, women's football, like men's football, is growing in both popularity and participationas well as more professional leagues worldwide. From the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup tournament held in 1991 to the 1,194,221 tickets sold for the 1999 Women's World Cup visibility and support of women's professional football has increased around the globe.
However, as in numerous other sports, women's pay and opportunities are much lower in comparison with professional male football players.Major league and international women's football have far less television and media coverage than the men's equivalent. The popularity and participation in women's football continues to grow.
The growth in women's football has seen major competitions being launched at both the national and international levels.
Unofficial women's European tournaments for national teams were held in Italy in 1969and 1979 and won by Italy and Denmark, but there was no formal international tournament until 1982 when the first UEFA European Competition For Representative Women's Teams was launched. The 1984 Finals was won by Sweden is commonly referred to as the Women's Euro. Norway won, in the 1987 Finals. Since then, the UEFA Women's Championship has been dominated by Germany, which has won eight out of the 10 events to date. The only other teams to win are Norway, which won in 1993, and the reigning champions, the Netherlands, which won at home in 2017.
Prior to the 1991 establishment of the FIFA Women's World Cup, several unofficial world tournaments took place in the 1970s and 1980s,including the FIFA's Women's Invitation Tournament 1988, which was hosted in China.
The first Women's World Cup was held in the People's Republic of China, in November 1991, and was won by the United States (USWNT). The third Cup, held in the United States in June and July 1999, drew worldwide television interest and a final in front of a record-setting 90,000+ Pasadena crowd, where the United States won 5–4 on penalty kicks against China.The US are the reigning champions, having won in Canada in 2015.
The Copa Libertadores de Fútbol Femenino (Women's Libertadores Cup) is the international women's football club competition for teams that play in CONMEBOL nations. The competition started in the 2009 season in response to the increased interest in women's football. It is the only CONMEBOL club competition for women, and it is sometimes called the Copa Libertadores Femenina.
Since 1996, a Women's Football Tournament has been staged at the Olympic Games. Unlike in the men's Olympic Football tournament (based on teams of mostly under-23 players), the Olympic women's teams do not have restrictions due to professionalism or age.
England and other British Home Nations are not eligible to compete as separate entities because the International Olympic Committee does not recognise their FIFA status as separate teams in competitions. The participation of UK men's and women's sides at the 2012 Olympic tournament was a bone of contention between the four national associations in the UK from 2005, when the Games were awarded to London, to 2009. England was strongly in favour of unified UK teams, while Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland were opposed, fearing adverse consequences for the independent status of the Home Nations within FIFA. At one stage it was reported that England alone would field teams under the UK banner (officially "Great Britain") for the 2012 Games.However, both the men's and women's Great Britain teams eventually fielded some players from the other home nations. (See Football at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Women's tournament)
After the lifting of the F.A. ban, the now defunct Women's Football Association held its first national knockout cup in 1970–71. It was called the Mitre Trophy which became the FA Women's Cup in 1993. Southampton WFC was the inaugural winner. From 1983 to 1994 Doncaster Belles reached ten out of 11 finals, winning six of them. Chelsea are the current holders and Arsenal are the most successful club with a record 14 wins. Despite tournament sponsorship by major companies, entering the cup actually costs clubs more than they get in prize money. In 2015 it was reported that even if Notts County had won the tournament outright the paltry £8,600 winnings would leave them out of pocket. The winners of the men's FA Cup in the same year received £1.8 million, with teams not even reaching the first round proper getting more than the women's winners.
In 2002, FIFA inaugurated a women's youth championship, officially called the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship. The first event was hosted by Canada. The final was an all-CONCACAF affair, with the USA defeating the host Canadians 1-0 with an extra-time golden goal. The second event was held in Thailand in 2004 and won by Germany. The age limit was raised to 20, starting with the 2006 event held in Russia. Demonstrating the increasing global reach of the women's game, the winners of this event were North Korea. The tournament was renamed the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, effective with the 2008 edition won by the US in Chile. The current champions are Japan, who won in France in 2018.
In 2008, FIFA instituted an under-17 world championship. The inaugural event, held in New Zealand, was won by North Korea. The current champions at this level are Spain, who won in Uruguay in 2018.
In the United States, the intercollegiate sport began from physical education programs that helped establish organized teams. After sixty years of trying to gain social acceptance women's football was introduced to the college level. In the late 1970s, women's club teams started to appear on college campus, but it wasn't until the 1980s that they started to gain recognition and gained a varsity status. Brown University was the first college to grant full varsity level status to their women's soccer team. The Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) sponsored the first regional women's soccer tournament at college in the US, which was held at Brown University. The first national level tournament was held at Colorado College, which gained official AIAW sponsorship in 1981. The 1990s saw greater participation mainly due to the Title IX of 23 June 1972, which increased school's budgets and their addition of women's scholarships.
"Currently there are over 700 intercollegiate women's soccer teams playing for many types and sizes of colleges and universities. This includes colleges and universities that are members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)."
The majority of women footballers around the globe wear a traditional kit made up of a jersey, shorts, cleats and knee-length socks worn over shin guards.
In 2004, FIFA President Sepp Blatter suggested that women footballers should "wear tighter shorts and low cut shirts... to create a more female aesthetic" and attract more male fans. His comment was criticized as sexist by numerous people involved with women's football and several media outlets worldwide.
In September 2008, FC de Rakt women's team (FC de Rakt DA1) in the Netherlands made international headlines by swapping its old kit for a new one featuring short skirts and tight-fitting shirts.This innovation, which had been requested by the team itself, was initially vetoed by the Royal Dutch Football Association on the grounds that according to the rules of the game shorts must be worn by all players, both male and female; but this decision was reversed when it was revealed that the FC de Rakt team were wearing hot pants under their skirts, and were therefore technically in compliance. Denying that the kit change was merely a publicity stunt, club chairman Jan van den Elzen told Reuters:
The girls asked us if they could make a team and asked specifically to play in skirts. We said we'd try but we didn't expect to get permission for that. We've seen reactions from Belgium and Germany already saying this could be something for them. Many girls would like to play in skirts but didn't think it was possible.
21-year-old team captain Rinske Temming said:
We think they are far more elegant than the traditional shorts and furthermore they are more comfortable because the shorts are made for men. It's more about being elegant, not sexy. Female football is not so popular at the moment. In the Netherlands there's an image that it's more for men, but we hope that can change.
In June 2011, Iran forfeited an Olympic qualification match in Jordan, after trying to take to the field in hijabs and full body suits. FIFA awarded a default 3–0 win to Jordan, explaining that the Iranian kits were "an infringement of the Laws of the Game", due to safety concerns. The decision provoked strong criticism from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while Iranian officials alleged that the actions of the Bahraini match delegate had been politically motivated. In July 2012, FIFA approved the wearing of hijab in future matches.
Also in June 2011, Russian UEFA Women's Champions League contenders WFC Rossiyanka announced a plan to play in bikinis in a bid to boost attendances.
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Tiffeny Carleen Milbrett is an American retired professional soccer forward who was a longtime member of the United States women's national soccer team. In May 2018 the National Soccer Hall of Fame announced Milbrett will be enshrined in the Hall. A native of Oregon, she starred at the University of Portland where she scored a then school record 103 goals during her career. She won an Olympic gold medal in 1996 in Atlanta and a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. She also played in three World Cups, winning in 1999. A player who enjoys signing autographs for her fans, she is in the top five all-time in the United States national soccer team in three offensive categories.
Dick, Kerr Ladies F.C. was one of the earliest known women's association football teams in England. The team remained in existence for over 48 years, from 1917 to 1965, playing 833 games, winning 759, drawing 46, and losing 28. During its early years, matches attracted anywhere from 4,000 to over 50,000 spectators per match. In 1920, Dick, Kerr Ladies defeated a French side 2–0 in front of 25,000 people that went down in history as the first international women's association football game. The team faced strong opposition by the Football Association (FA), who banned the women from using fields and stadiums controlled by FA-affiliated clubs for 50 years.
Karen Julia Carney is an English international football winger. She is signed to Chelsea of the FA WSL and is a member of the England women's national football team. Since making her senior debut in 2005, Carney has made more than 100 appearances for England, including at the 2005, 2009 and 2013 European Championships and the World Cup in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. She also competed with the Great Britain team at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Women's football has been played in England for over a century, sharing a common history with the men's game as the country in which the Laws of the Game were codified.
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, can be traced to as far back as the ancient period in China. The modern game of association football originates from cuju, an ancient Chinese football game, as recognized by FIFA. The formation of The Football Association was later implemented in London, England in 1863 based on multiple efforts to standardize the varying forms of the game. This allowed clubs to play each other without dispute and which specifically banned handling of the ball and hacking during open field play. After the fifth meeting of the association a schism emerged between association football and the rules played by the Rugby school, later to be called rugby football. At the time, football clubs had played by their own, individual codes and game-day rules usually had to be agreed upon before a match could commence. For example, the Sheffield Rules that applied to most matches played in the Sheffield area were a different code. Football has been an Olympic sport ever since the second modern Summer Olympic Games in 1900.
Alexandra Virina Scott is an English former footballer who mostly played as a right-back for Arsenal in the FA WSL. She made 140 appearances for the English national team and also represented Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.
The Scotland women's national football team represents Scotland in international women's football competitions. Since 1998, the team has been governed by the Scottish Football Association (SFA). Scotland qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time in 2019, and qualified for their first UEFA Women's Euro in 2017. As of December 2018, the team was 20th in the FIFA Women's World Rankings.
Eniola Aluko is an English footballer who plays as a forward for Serie A club Juventus. Since 2014 she has also provided television commentary on football, including men’s and women’s World Cups.
Rut Hedvig Lindahl is a Swedish professional football goalkeeper who plays for Chelsea Ladies. She previously played club football in Sweden for Damallsvenskan clubs including Malmö FF, Linköpings FC, Kristianstads DFF and Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC. Since making her international debut in 2002, Lindahl has accrued over 115 caps for the Sweden women's national football team. On 3 August 2014 Lindahl played her 100th cap for Sweden women's national football team against England. On 17 September 2015 Lindahl played her 113th cap and thereby broke Elisabeth Leidinge's record to become the most capped Swedish female goalkeeper. She has kept goal for Sweden at the UEFA Women's Championship, the FIFA Women's World Cup and the Olympic Games. Lindahl was the Swedish women's goalkeeper of the year in 2004, 2005, 2009, 2014 and 2015. She won the 2015 Diamantbollen, after being one of three nominations for Damallsvenskan's Most Valuable Player in 2014. In 2016, Lindahl was one of 5 nominees for Women's PFA Players' Player of the Year and was also picked for the WSL Team of the Year.
Homare Sawa is a former Japanese professional football player. She was captain of the Japan national team that won gold at the 2011 World Cup and led the team to the silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2012, she was named the 2011 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year. She previously played for the Atlanta Beat of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), Nippon TV Beleza, the Washington Freedom of Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), and INAC Kobe Leonessa in the Nadeshiko League Division 1.
Jill Louise Scott is an English footballer who currently plays for Manchester City and the England national team as a midfielder. The FIFA technical report into the 2011 Women's World Cup described Scott as one of England's four outstanding players; "[an] energetic, ball-winning midfielder who organises the team well, works hard at both ends of the pitch and can change her team's angle of attack."
Carly Mitchell Telford is an English footballer who plays as a goalkeeper. She played for Notts County Ladies of the FA WSL until they folded in April 2017. She has since signed a short-term deal with Chelsea Ladies. She also represents the England national team.
Betsy Doon Hassett is a New Zealand footballer who plays for the New Zealand women's national football team and Icelandic club KR. She previously played for German side SC Sand, English club Manchester City, Amazon Grimstad in Norway, Werder Bremen in Germany's Frauen-Bundesliga and Dutch club Ajax. Hassett represented New Zealand at the 2011 and 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup as well as the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. As a youth, she played at the 2008 and 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup tournaments.
Karen Louise Bardsley is a footballer who plays goalkeeper for Manchester City and the England women's national football team.
The Great Britain Olympic football team is the men's football team that represents the United Kingdom at the Summer Olympic Games. The team is organised by the English Football Association (FA) as the footballing representative of the British Olympic Association. The team only competes in the Olympic Games. In other international football tournaments, the Home Nations of the United Kingdom are represented by their own national teams, a situation which pre-dated the establishment of a GB team.
Ellen Toni White is an English international footballer who plays as a forward for Manchester City of the FA WSL. With England's national team she played at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup and won the bronze medal at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. White was also part of the Great Britain team for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Josanne Potter is an English footballer who plays as a midfielder for Reading. Originally a left-winger, she matured into a creative central midfield player. At club level Potter enjoyed three separate spells at Birmingham City Ladies and is noted for her crossing abilities and goalscoring record. She has played in three FA Women's Cup finals – with Arsenal in 2004, Charlton Athletic in 2007 and Birmingham City in 2012. On the international stage, she often had to compete with Rachel Yankey and Sue Smith for a place on the left flank of the England team.
Alex Greenwood is an English footballer who plays for FA WSL club Manchester United, where she is club captain, and the England national team. Mainly a left-back, she can also play as a centre-back and is considered to be a set-piece specialist.
Nikita Josephine Parris is an English professional footballer who plays as a forward for Olympique Lyon and the England women's national football team.