Goal: The Story of How Women’s Soccer Rose to Fame

| | February 19, 2024

Men’s sports have been around since the ancient times, but what about women’s sports like women’s soccer? Although there have been rumors of women playing soccer much earlier, the major rise of women’s soccer started after 1863 when the English Football Association standardized the rules of the game.

This now safer game became very popular for women all over the United Kingdom, and soon after the rule change, it was almost as popular as men’s soccer (“History of”).

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In 1920, two women’s soccer teams played each other in front of a massive crowd of 53,000 people in Liverpool, England.

Although that was a major achievement for women’s soccer, it had terrible consequences for the women’s league in the United Kingdom; the English Football Association was threatened by the size of women’s soccer, so they banned women from playing soccer on the same fields as men.

Due to this, women’s soccer declined in the U.K., which caused a decline in nearby places as well. It wasn’t until 1930, when Italy and France created women’s leagues, that women’s soccer started to rise again. Then, after World War II, countries all over Europe started women’s soccer leagues (“Women in”).

Even though most countries had women’s teams, it wasn’t until 1971 that the ban was lifted in England and women could play on the same fields as the men (“History of”).

A year after the ban was lifted, women’s soccer in America became more popular due to Title IX. Title IX required that equal funding was given to men’s and women’s sports in colleges.

The new law meant that more women could go to college with a sports scholarship, and as a result, it meant that women’s soccer was becoming a more common sport at colleges all over the United States (“Women’s Soccer in”).

Surprisingly, it wasn’t until the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta that women’s soccer was an Olympic event. At that Olympic Games there were only 40 events for women and double the amount of men participants as there were women (“American Women”).

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One massive step forward for women’s soccer was the first Women’s World Cup, which is a soccer tournament that has teams from all over the world play each other. This first tournament was held in China on November 16-30, 1991.

Dr. Hao Joao Havelange, the president of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) during that time, was the person that initiated the first Women’s World Cup, and because of that first World Cup, the United States created a name for itself in women’s soccer.

At that tournament, the U.S won, beating Norway 2-1 in the finals (above). The U.S. later won the third Women’s World Cup in 1999, beating China in a shootout; that tournament was held in the United States. In later World Cups, the United States didn’t win, but they always placed in at least second or third place. (“FIFA”).

As women’s soccer grew more popular, magazines and newspapers started to publish pictures of women playing soccer. One of the first articles was from 1869 (right); it shows a group of women playing ball in their dresses.

Another article from 1895 shows the North Team after they had won a game against the South Team (below on left).The article, it stateswomen are unfit to play soccer and that women’s soccer is a type of entertainment that is frowned upon by society (“Antique Women’s”).

Works CitedOver time, the articles and publicity of women’s soccer became more positive. Along with these positive articles, there were also some players that became legends. Some of the most legendary players are: Mia Hamm, Marta, and Abby Wambach.

Mia Hamm, who played for the Women’s National Team in the U.S., has been titled FIFA’s World Player of the Year twice, and she led the U.S to victory in two World Cups and the 1996 and 2004 Olympics. Many female soccer players consider her an inspiration due to her many skills and achievements.

Marta plays for Brazil, and she has been tilted FIFA’s World Player of the Year five times. Although she has never won a World Cup, she is still very popular because of her wide array of tricks and skills. Abby Wambach plays for the United States.

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She has been titled the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year five times, and she has scored a total of 134 goals in her professional career. She has yet to win a World Cup, but the U.S Women’s National Team is in the 2015 World Cup in Canada (“10 Greatest”).With every year, more and more girls start to play soccer, so it will not be long before there are even more female players that everybody knows about.

Courtney Bayer

Works Cited

“10 Greatest Female Soccer Players in History.”Bleacher Report. Bleacher Report, Inc., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1199060-10-greatest-female-soccer-players-in-history>.

“American Women in the Olympics.” American Women in the Olympics. National Women’s History Museum., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/olympics/participants.htm>.

“Antique Women’s Uniforms.”  History of Women’s Football. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://thehistoryofwomensfootball.com/antique-womens-uniforms.html>.

“FIFA Women’s World Cup China PR 1991.”FIFA.com. FIFA, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://www.fifa.com/tournaments/archive/womensworldcup/chinapr1991/index.html>.

“History of Women’s Soccer.” History of Women’s Soccer. Soccer-Fans-Info, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://www.soccer-fans-info.com/history-of-women-soccer.html>.

“Women in Soccer.” History Of Soccer! N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://www.historyofsoccer.info/women_soccer.html>.

“Women’s Soccer in the United States.” Timetoast. Timetoast, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/womens-soccer-in-the-united-states>.

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5 thoughts on “Goal: The Story of How Women’s Soccer Rose to Fame”

  1. There’s not one mention of the three founding mothers of US Women’s Soccer. My mom is the one who is responsible for the Fabulous Five being on the team. It was her that told Anson to check the younger players before turning in the roster. Of course, they give credit to some man. There are three founding mothers of US Women’s Soccer. Betty D’Anjolell, Mavis Derflinger, and Marty Mankamyer. It’s sad none of these players know the true history of soccer and the women that made it happen.


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