Monday, December 20, 2004

Kicking like a girl

Good old FIFA are at it again - insisting that women shouldn't be allowed to play in men's football teams. Whatever next? No gay people in the straight olympics please! Seperate teams for for black people and white people? Oh please...!

Well I have written a nice email to Mr Blatter letting him know what I think of his rulings. He may remember me from the last time I wrote to tell him what I thought about his suggestion that the best way to raise the profile of women's football would be to insist on skimpier outfits for female players...

I do have some sympathy with those who fear that letting a few elite women in to the men's league would be harmful to the women's leagues. However I think the disadvantages there are more than outweighed by the thousands of women who would likely be inspired to take the sport up if they saw women competing in this way. And it would encourage girls to go down the park and join the local boy's team if that was the easiest way to learn to play.

Doing this at the highest level however sets a precedent for teams right the way through the league system to exclude women. Especially in rural areas this can mean the difference for women between having the chance to play and not having the chance to play.

Personally I used to play for a women's team until last season but there are far too few teams around central London and competition for places is desperately fought. I ended up registered with a team but very rarely getting a game. So now I play for a men's team, and its great fun. OK, so what I should have done is started my own women's team, but I don't have time anymore [I ran my own team for 3 years in Japan a few years back]. In the past I've played for a lot of different mens and womens teams and the variety of experience has unsurprisingly made me a better all-round player.

Anyway as its Christmas and since you're all so special I thought I'd risk the threat to my blogging anonymity (I've had a very different hair-do since then) and post up a picture of me lined up to play for the "Vagabonds" team. This was 2002 in a mini-world cup friendly tournament in Tokyo, despite being English I was playing for the USA (anything for a game!). Actually I was the only woman in the whole competition and ended up being interviewed on local TV.


simon said...

FIFA are a private organisation and should be able to run their football matches any way they like. If you want mixed football matches, arrange some! You could also start a world organisation to oversee mixed football matches.

Cruella said...

Well thanks for the suggestion(?) Unfortunately its not really possible for me to start a new footballing governing body, a new league system, etc. And since that's not actually possible you seem to be suggesting that I should therefore put up with the existing governing body, sexism and all.

Well, as I say, thanks for the suggestion... but no thanks. Being a private organisation does not exempt you from being responsible for your own actions. This is particularly true when the support of governments around the world has given you an effective monopoly.

simon said...

Cruella, you might have a point. If all sports went mixed, the Olympics and Wimbledon would be much shorter, and cheaper to put on TV. We could then sack some more BBC staff and reduce the licence fee. These redundant staff could be re-employed later, as committees meet and quangos are created to investigate the possible existence of a 'glass ceiling' and sexism preventing women from becoming members of top football and rugby teams.
As for no gay people in the straight Olympics? There are no straight Olympics, but there are the Gay Games. In your new enlightened era, presumably these Games will be open to heterosexuals as well, whether the gay people who organise them and compete in them like it or not.

Cruella said...

Well I think that the purpose of having "gay" olympics and "women only" events in the olympics is to give a chance of sporting glory to people who wouldn't otherwise be able to have their hard work celebrated. when however women and gay men are able to enter and compete in the main events with the (straight) male athletes, this should be encouraged.

Next you will be banning kids under the age of 11 from joining the under-12s team. Or saying boxers too light for their weight category should be refused permission to fight.

Seems that you are falling into the very common trap of if-women-get-something-extra-we-want-it-too without thinking about *why* the women-only events exist to start with. Relax! Having women playing in football leagues is not going to force all the men out. And if it does then you can start a men-only league. The main event though should be open to everyone.