The success of women's football is tangible all over the world

The combination of football and women has always been a fertile ground for jokes between easy irony and open controversy. Recent data, however, speak of the exponential growth of women's football, in the number of newborn players and clubs as well as spectators and fans. Only on 17 March, at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, 60,739 spectators were registered for the Madrid-Barcelona athletic match, which FIFA immediately indicated as an absolute record for a match of this type.
Played as a girl in blue uniform
The next major event in the panorama of women's football will be the eighth edition of the World Championship, World Championships, which will be held in France from June 7. There are 24 participating teams and, among these, the United States will play to maintain the title won during the Canadian edition of 2015; Italy, however, will return to play a world championship twenty years after the United States 1999: a goal that was also celebrated by the entry of the Italian national team in the collection of Panini figurines dedicated to the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019.
Girl balls in the field
In terms of visibility and investment, the road to full equality is still long and uphill, although much has been done compared to the beginning. But let's go back for a moment to the origins of modern football, when the balls didn't have an inner tube yet and football had just come out of British colleges.

The history of modern football

The exact date of the beginning of modern football is 26 October 1863, when at Freemason’s Tavern di Great Queen Street, in Great Queen Street, London, representatives of 11 British clubs met to draw up the rules of the game of football, soon giving rise to the Football Association, the first national football federation.
Nice round football
For over one hundred and fifty years, men's football has been by far the most popular and popular sport, with its four billion fans and unparalleled turnover: it has the largest number of championships in the world, has the highest salaries for its players among all professional athletes (and not) and attracts sponsors and advertising worth several billion euros. Incredible differences if you think that women’s football is only thirty years younger, but until recently has remained out of the spotlight and the interest of most.
Goalkeeper posing
The first official women's match was played in London on March 23, 1895, between the representatives of the North and South of the city, with the victory of the first 7-1. The idea that football, which for a few years had been thrilling English society, historically macho and conservative, could and should be accessible to women came to a young woman, whose identity is shrouded in mystery.
Celebrating after a goal
Some identified her as a grocery store assistant, Jessie Allen, others with Mary Hutson, but for all, she remained known under the pseudonym of Nettie Honeyball, with whom she decided to publish an advertisement in the newspaper to find the first women's football league. 30 women proudly joined the Honeyball project, all motivated by the desire to prove to men that they were more than just ornamental figures, which gave rise to the British Ladies Football Club.
The words of a reporter from "The Daily Sketch", who was invited to participate in their first match, were not good luck for the future of women's football: "A few minutes were enough to show that the football played by women, if the British Ladies can be taken as a criterion, is totally out of the question. A footballer is required to have speed, judgment, skill, and courage. None of these four qualities was shown on Saturday. For much of the competition, women wandered aimlessly in the field, in a graceless way. But a first taboo had been broken.
In 1917, during the First World War, due to the absence of male front-line manpower, women began to be called to work in the factory to produce munitions of war. At Dick Kerr in Preston, some of them got into the habit of spending their lunch break playing soccer in the yard, giving life to the Kerr's Ladies team. In a short time, the curiosity and enthusiasm born after the first matches of this atypical formation led to the birth of other women's teams: in 1921 there were about 150.
This unexpected success affected and worried many about the future of male football, especially the Football Association, which on December 5 issued a measure to ban the movement of female football, stopping it, or at least slowing down its future development. It was only in the late 1960s that the first national and international women's federations were born, and that the history of women's football really began to move forward.
UEFA officially recognized women's football in 1971, while FIFA's first world championship was held in China in 1991. Given the enormous potential of this sector, both bodies are working to achieve even better results. The UEFA campaign Together #WePlayStrong campaign revolutionized the perception of women's football, encouraging girls to play and highlighting the psychological, physical and emotional benefits of the sport, while FIFA published a few months ago a report describing a growth strategy for women's football.

UEFA officially recognised women's football in 1971, while FIFA's first world championship was held in China in 1991.

The points touched on range from increasing participation to increasing commercial value, from the development of a more targeted communication to the need to ensure a fairer representation of women in sports committees and decision-making bodies. And, above all, it is essential to work on the education and culture of women's football from primary school onwards, to create a fertile ground from which it is easier to ensure a bright future for this sport.

Hamm began playing football in Italy, where his father had been moved for work, and during his career brought up the flag of the American national team, scoring 158 goals in 275 games.

At the beginning of March, the accusation of "institutionalized gender discrimination" that the 28 footballers of the U.S. National team presented against the leaders of the U.S. Soccer, complaining about the different treatment - not only economic but also related to the structures and resources dedicated to them - compared to the players of the male national team caused a stir. The complaint has surprised especially because the American women's national team is the most titled in the world (three world titles and four Olympic gold medals in its palmarès) and because in the U.S. football is a sport practiced more by women than men, with a huge spread even in colleges and players who are real icons, as the striker Mia Hamm, retired in 2004 and still considered the strongest soccer player in history.
Hamm, born with a congenital defect at her feet that forced her, during her childhood, to wear corrective shoes, began to play football in Italy, where her father had been transferred for work, and during her career she brought up the flag of the American national team, scoring 158 goals in 275 games, winning two world championships, winning two gold medals and an Olympic silver medal and obtaining - the only women, along with her compatriot Michelle Akers - a place in FIFA 100, the ranking of the 125 strongest players in the world, drawn up in 2004.
In 1998 Mattel was inspired by Mia Hamm to create the iconic Barbie Soccer Player and, twenty years later, among the 17 "inspiring women" to whom the American company has dedicated the Sheroes collection, it was the turn of the Italian Sara Gama, captain of Juventus and the national football team. Advisor to the FIGC and president of the Federal Commission for the Development of Women's Football, the very young player has long been committed to ensuring that women's football finds the dimension it deserves in the Italian sports scene.
In Italy, a country where football is deeply rooted in popular culture and is a subject that ignites the soul, one of the most discussed issues is the recognition of the professionalism of women in sports, because today the legislation prevents them from enjoying the benefits of Law No. 91/1981, which regulates the relationship between athletes and clubs and guarantees to colleagues social security, health, and contractual protection.

The great success of women's football also in Italy

The public success of the Juventus Women-Fiorentina Women match, played for the first time at the Allianz Stadium in Turin on 24 March last, is clear and the news has gone around the world: the match, valid for the championship, has gone sold out with 39,000 spectators. A country that you go, a prohibition that you find. If Italy is in many ways still a step backward in recognizing football gender equality, the situation elsewhere is much more critical. On January 12, 2018, was celebrated a turning point in Saudi Arabia, where for the first time, by decree of the heir to the throne Mohammed Bin Salman, women were able to enter the stadium to attend a game of male football.
As for football players, the road is still long, but women do not lose hope: among the pioneers of women's football in Saudi Arabia, Saja Kamal, born in 1990, met football when she was only four years old and growing up had the opportunity to play and train abroad; now that she is back in her country she is confident that the spread of her favorite sport can really begin, starting from the promise of greater involvement of women, even in sports, that the socio-economic development plan Saudi Vision 2030, approved by the government in 2016, promises to pursue.
Another women who has not been intimidated by the difficulties of following her passion is the Sudanese Salma al-Majidi, the first women in the Arab world to be registered by FIFA as a coach of a male team, in spite of a fatwa of the Islamic Council that in 1983 had defined the practice of football by women as an immoral act.
Strong, tenacious, passionate women. Women who do not lose hope to see finally recognized the simple freedom to run on the field, to follow their own inclinations without fear of judgment and anachronistic obstructionism. Women who are the first to go beyond clichés and expect everyone to do so, who enjoy themselves and transmit positive messages to break down cultural and other barriers.

The future of football, at the end of the day, is pink.

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