Daily Mail reporter Laura Williamson has held nothing back in her latest article ahead of England’s second Euro 2013 Group C fixture against Russia, “Lets stop being nice about women’s football”
The article is a very interesting read, and Laura makes some very good points, I have pasted the article below, but you can view the full column at its original source here.
I think it is a really important debate we should have, and I am interested to hear from the WSU members around the world about the way women’s football is handled by the media in your country.
I think Laura has highlighted many facts that a lot of people have not felt they could openly discuss for whatever reasons.
Bring ’em home. Drop the goalkeeper. Sack the manager. Endlessly debate why England are no longer capable of producing talented players who thrive in a tournament environment. Argue over whether the captain should be starting matches weeks after tearing a hamstring.
Oh, sorry. This is women’s football I’m talking about, so we’ll just say ‘the girls’ were a ‘bit nervous’ and England’s 3-2 defeat by Spain, a country competing in their first European Championship since 1997, was a ‘disappointing night’. What utter claptrap.
Watching England’s stoppage-time loss on Friday was a particularly frustrating experience. England twice came from behind but blew it with seconds remaining. Karen Bardsley’s own goal managed to fulfil every stereotype about female keepers being the weak link as she flapped about in the six-yard box.
Former England captain Faye White, in the BBC studio, was constructively critical, but has there been any real debate about whether Bardsley should be dropped, or why captain Casey Stoney was so hopelessly out of position to allow Veronica Boquete to score Spain’s opening goal?
Of course not.
Most women are so sickeningly grateful and pleased to see female footballers on television that the small matter of winning and losing takes a backseat while, for male commentators, it seems prudent to say nothing rather than put their foot in it.
The stars of the women’s game do not want or deserve the hype and vitriol too often directed at male players, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t argue Rachel Yankey has broken Peter Shilton’s England caps record and then dress up a European Championship like a glorified school sports day.
The vibe is so patronising, you feel Hope Powell’s squad will come home with a medal and a goody bag even if they lose all three of their Group C games in Sweden.
Only in the strange world of women’s football could Powell still be in the position she has held since 1998. During that time England have won the grand total of two Cyprus Cups, an annual invitational international tournament on a Mediterranean island. They now need to beat Russia to have any hope of qualifying for the knockout rounds of Euro 2013.
Powell clearly loathes the media, but it is part of her job to answer questions, however stupid they might be. She was handed a gem by the BBC’s Newsround programme this week, who asked whether the England women’s team could beat the men’s outfit. ‘Absolutely, why not?’ she said. ‘Physically, the guys are obviously a lot stronger, but if we took it on technical ability, we’re as good.’
Leaving aside the ridiculous question from a kids’ TV show, this was a frankly ridiculous answer. Of course the women would not win – they would get annihilated. You would think a footballer and manager of Powell’s experience would be adept enough to gently brush this aside, respectfully pointing out they are two completely different games, but instead she made herself look foolish. This being women’s football, that is where it ended. If only Roy Hodgson were treated with the same kid gloves.
The constant message is it is not the done thing to criticise senior female figures in football as, bless their hearts, they are trying their best and are still in the minority. This, after all, is not ‘England’ we’re talking about, it is ‘England Women’ – or the equally abhorrent ‘Lionesses’. They are by implication different, other and lesser. Equality? Do me a favour
Stoney, Bardsley and the rest are just England players, though. They messed up like every other home-grown football team this summer and have two matches to put that right. Let’s hope their performances this coming week merit more than a patronising pat on the head.
Who do you think? Leave your comments below