Everything You Need To Know About Women’s Football In England

Discover the history of women’s football and why it is so segregated.

By Isla, London · April 4, 2019


Pic: Unsplash Creative Commons / Jeffrey F Lin

What is the history of women’s football in England?

Women’s football was very popular during the early 1900s. In the 1920s, the sport thrived and developed around 150 women’s teams in England alone. The sport was most popular during the first world war when men were called up for the army and women were called to work in factories.

On Christmas day 1917, 10,000 people came to Preston to watch two women’s teams play, and on Boxing Day 1920, Dick Kerr’s Ladies played St Helen’s Ladies at Everton’s Goodison Park Ground and got a record-breaking attendance of 53,000 people in the stands and thousands more waiting outside.

Compare this to the fact that Everton’s men’s attendance highest attendance was in the 2014/15 season when they got 39,000 people watching.

However, on 5th December 1921, the FA banned women from playing on all FA-affiliated pitches meaning that they could not play on grounds with spectator facilities.



Why was it banned and when was the ban lifted?

The FA banned women’s football in 1921 because ‘’the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.’’ The FA felt threatened as men’s football was less popular and women were stealing all spotlight.

However, the WFA (Women’s Football Association) formed a to help women playing football. Finally, in 1971, the ban was lifted.



Woman’s football is finally a career

In 1975, The Sex Discrimination Act allowed women to train and become professional referees. However, women’s football was still a rare sight on national television and although it is shown more now, it is still quite rare to view other matches except for The Women’s Champions League or The Women’s FA World Cup on national television in England.



The FA outlined plans to evolve women’s football by upgrading the game from a grassroots level to an elite level. In 2011, the inaugural season of the Women’s Super League launched. From this, there was an amount of 2.6 million women and girls playing football in England. England Women played a match against Germany and sold 55,000 tickets which exceeded the number of tickets sold for the match between England Men’s and Germany Men’s when they only sold 40,181.