“Watching her helps me focus and believe I can do it too”- History of Women’s football in England before the 2022 European championships (1)

Inspiring Billboards were placed around England during the Women’s 2022 European Championships

This post is the first of a 6 post series that will explore women’s football in England, and it’s relationship with the media in the past, present and future. Post 1 is a timeline of Women’s football and its most historic events.

  • 1895 : First ever women’s football was recorded. The North Beat the South 7-1 (thefa.com, N.D.) The teams were predominantly made middle-class women and apparently hosted an audience of up to 12,000 people (Jones, 2022).

  • 1915: World War 1 meant that men’s leagues were suspended until 1919 (Jones, 2022). This resulted in women’s football flourishing with around 150 teams forming into the industrial workplaces of women (Jones, 2022).

  • 1921: The FA bans women’s football as they deem the sport to be inappropriate for women (thefa.com, N.D.)

  • 1971: Official ban was lifted – 50 years after it was instated (Haines, 2016).

  • 1991: First ever women’s world cup was held in China (Barriera & Da Silva, 2016) 12 teams took part, 99 goals were scored over 26 matches (Barriera & Da Silva, 2016).

  • 1993-1997: The FA announces the takeover of administration of women’s football in England, forming a women’s committee (thefa.com) The FA women’s premier league (FAWPL) is the league that is formed in 1994, and in 1997 the FA announce their plans to develop women’s football from grassroots to elite level (thefa.com, N.D.)

  • 2002: Football becomes the top participation sport in the UK for women and girls (Decathlon, 2021), which was three years ahead of schedule (thefa.com, N.D.)

  • 2010: Arsenal women are champions of the premier league but Leeds Carnegie defied odds and won the premier league cup (thefa.com, N.D.).

  • 2011: The FA women’s super league was formed, with 8 teams taking part in the summer competititon (onherside.co.uk, 2022).

  • 2012: The summer Olympics held in London saw UK women’s team reach the quarter-final, which would have helped inspired the next generation (thefa, N.D.).

  • 2017: England Women’s national team make it to the semi-finals of the 2017 European championships, where they lost 3-0 to Holland (Murray, 2017).

  • 2019: England’s national women’s team came fourth place in the FIFA world cup but their semi-final game against USA attracting a audience of 11.7 million viewers on BBC 1 (thefa.com, N.D.).

  • 2022: England’s national team win the European championships, observing multiple records for women’s football, including the highest ever attended football match in men’s and womens european football championship history (87, 192) (Plantfootball.com, 2022).

That was a brief timeline of the history of women’s football, and it is safe to say that that sport has seen a rise and fall throughout history. As we see the sport defy odds and rebel against tradition and stereotypes, more and more questions can be answered as to what is responsible for the growth of the sport?

This series of blog posts will look to uncover the influence that the media has had upon this growth, and what will it mean for the future of women’s football sport media.

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