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History of Soccer - Women in Soccer


omen's soccer history has interesting turns and twists starting all the way in Europe. The urban form of soccer set up by the Football Association in 1863 in London was a male sport played by all ages of men and was popularised as men’s favorite pastime

Women in Soccer

Some historians mention casual competitions in Scotland and parts of England of soccer matches between married and unmarried women during late 19th century. By early 20th century, you could see women playing the game seriously in different parts of Great Britain, France and Canada. Some facts point that in Central Europe, competitive soccer was not uncommon. Such games were often played without compliance with the civil and church authorities.

One of the popular records of the game comes from the Boxing day in 1920, at Goodison Park in Liverpool. A spectacular game took place on England’s biggest soccer ground where Dick, Kerr Ladies played with a Lancashire team called St. Helen Ladies in front of a crowd of 53,000 people. It is noted that more than ten thousand fans had to be locked out when the ground became fully occupied.

The first few decades of the 20th century saw women soccer being restricted to casual gym classes, games and college competitions.

The crowd size on that day was seen as a major threat at the headquarters of Football Association in London. In 1921, the influential central body of the game set a ban on women for playing soccer for an incredible period of 50 years. The repercussions could be seen immediately as this decision crippled women soccer players in a few countries. However, Italy and France established women’s leagues in early 1930s. Women soccer remained latent until World War II. After the war, the graph took an upward turn with Italy establishing its national association in 1950 and Germany organizing the first informal women European championship in 1957. Northern European countries were also part of the development, especially Norway and Sweden.

Soccer for women in England saw a decline owing to the ban, which was much criticized for its anachronism all over Europe. By the time the ban was lifted, almost 35 countries had their national leagues and international competition was in its bloom

Soccer for Women in The US

The first few decades of the 20th century saw women soccer being restricted to casual gym classes, games and college competitions. Unlike men’s soccer history, most women soccer had its prime growth at the college and university level. In 1951, the first women’s league was established and things changed from then on. The Craig Club Girls Soccer League had four teams and played complete schedules for two seasons. This is considered as the changing point in the history of women soccer. Although, it took around a decade before the soccer was included as a serious game in colleges.

The beginning of 20th century saw US women soccer gain high popularity and international acclaim. The sport made a late start-up in the US compared to Europe, which had women leagues way back in 1930s. Serious and organized form of soccer in the US started in 1970s, a trigger produced by Title IX Legislation of 1972 that made gender equality mandatory in education. The game widely spread during early 1980s through varsity college teams. However, it is interesting to note that the first national women’s league was established very recently in 1995. And even more amusing is the fact that the first professional women’s league took birth a few years back in 2001.

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