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  • Writer's pictureJude

FIFA 16 and the presence of Women

When FIFA announced the introduction of Women National Teams the reaction from the FIFA masses was tremendously inappropriate. Many criticised or questioned their implementation, avoiding potential notions that encouraged the decision opting for other premises. One of which was associating such a move with the “recent wave” of Feminism.

Certainly the movement has infiltrated the minds of many, including those who they attempt to teach their ideals in order to extinguish sexism, patriarchy, inequality and such from our Societies and logic. Hence it comes across as imposing. Of course the ideology has radical branches and individuals – yet so does every stance that comes under such a widespread concept.

Emphasising on recent wave because I do not see it as that, the ideology has been relevant for a long time within Society. Ironically these objections to Women invading the male dominant fields of Football and FIFA is the type of oppressive denial Feminism strives against. So I find it quite lame, that people in this FIFA crowd have been driving themselves insane at the thought of Women in the game.

Understandably by Social Media ideas spread like wildfire. Not only Feminism has increased in their personal notoriety, but any movement that undoes the cluster of nonsense they maintain – like Islamophobia, Racism, other forms of discrimination and alienation swept under the banner of Social Justice.

What other angst filled excuses did these objectors present? Apart from the misogynistic tirades, banter and dismissal of the competitive level of Women’s Football? I saw someone state the creators should concentrate on improving the game, as if adding Women to it is harmful to that continuous aim we have witnessed in the FIFA franchise since its creation.

Another brandished a “who cares” rhetoric, claiming people will hardly use them – I for one will do. Why? Not out of spite for these dolts but because it marks an interesting move in the FIFA franchise, reflecting upon life as we know it and hopefully to our benefit in the future. Despite my annoyance with that point, it made me think about the true irrelevance in FIFA’s game.

Leagues such as the Irish, Polish and Korean – National teams like India, Romania – who uses these teams? Competitively anyway? Is it fair they are in the game above greater teams? Ignoring the sports ethics, also facts around licensing, I feel as a fan that these teams are hardly used. Maybe they are selling points, used in their home nations. Although I would love to see the statistics, definitely we will be provided with some due to the new diversity within the game.

What is the actual point to be taken from all of this? Disregarding the intention of the FIFA creators I want to suggest some effects this move will have. Not only on the game itself but the sport in whole and gradually society.

Implementing Women’s National Teams into FIFA is the sign of the times. In this current climate of networking we can communicate Worldwide through Social Media. As a result considering the conditions of life for racial, religious and gender groups has heightened discussions and exposure concerning their treatment. Not only is this introspective behaviour geared towards colour, creeds and the understanding of gender – but life itself. Awareness of stigmatised mental health issues like depression, demonising concepts like promiscuity and lack of masculinity, femininity and so on.

Now here we are, in this whirlpool of Social Media – treading on thin ice which breaks when such ideas entices an argument. Apart from the relation to the gallery of concepts Society is fixed upon, FIFA 16 can be seen as an affair with the Women’s World Cup. A tournament which was viewed by millions worldwide and its final alone made relevant history, capturing the attention of 25.4 million American viewers who watched their Women take the Cup home – making this the most watched Football game ever in America.

Such a sporting nation, evident in their own enthusiasm in countless sports, competitiveness and the World games of Olympics which brings me to a point of perception. In Athletics, the idea of segregation by gender is almost obsolete in our eyes. I am not so observant of athletics to claim that but I come from the ignorant masses in this case.

So what of the result of Women’s National Teams in FIFA 16, the supposed impact of their addition? I believe it can only be positive, after the pointless sexist banter that will be inevitable we will become familiar with the best in this side of the game. Knowing the best sparks interest in the lesser but other talented players in a game.

Football is a game of style, appreciation and application to increase the utility of those players, individually tactically and so on. How influential was the greats of our childhood, respective of your age and whatever you chose to engage in. For me, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zidane, Owen, Beckham, Totti, Nedved, Edgar Davids and countless more inspired me into the Football Universe. One which I shall never leave, that I grieve over in disappointment and celebrate in its phenomenal showing.

I think the younger generation of FIFA players will acknowledge the Women’s National Teams presence, maybe eventually their leagues too, especially the young girls who otherwise might be deterred by the dominative presence of guys who adopt this perception of women from a tender age until the World stage – which now is being scrutinised more for such views. Battling the gender division until the blend is more socially respectful and accepting is what we are heading toward. The level will gradually increase with more coming out to play, until we don’t feel the division like in Athletics.

There is also a great historical imperative for their implementation. I want to point toward the story of Lily Parr – an outside left player in the famous Dick Kerr’s Ladies. Beginning her career in 1919 at age 14, she managed to score over 900 goals between then and 1951. With a powerful shot, a great delivery and physique well built for the game. From the sounds of it, quick, strong, 6ft tall we would deem such athletic in the Men’s game.

At times she played against men with her team, touring America during a ban on Women playing the game in England. Her shot was apparently tremendous, the old leather balls needed power to lift and hers was described as stronger than any mans. A natural athlete, maybe denied a place in relevant history due to our sexist lean towards not recognising the Women’s game.

Dick Kerr’s Ladies played against St Helen’s Ladies on Boxing Day, 1920 at Goodison Park – welcoming 53,000 fans packing out the stadium with thousands left outside eager to see these respected Women’s Teams. Peaking after the realisation of the commendable game at the Women’s Feet, by 1921 there was 150 Women’s teams in England. Unfortunately that peak was clipped by the FA, who pointed to financial mismanagement as reason to stop encouraging Women’s games, hence requesting grounds that are associated with the FA to stop hosting these games immediately – essentially banning Women’s Football in England.

Entertaining her passion for Football, Parr would have to travel with the team to play – hence touring America, playing teams in odd locations – as a result stunting the gathered fans. From 50,000 at its legal heights to around 5,000 on average. Surely, this was extremely damaging for Women in the game. Alongside the gender stigma of expected roles to play, throughout the World Wars which demanded more Nightingales than Dwight Gale’s, a Society which carried the idea of gender roles to Politics by not allowing Women to vote and even dismissing the idea of rape by Law in marriages.

We have overcome the outright oppressive endeavours of our Governance and living. I think it is now time we recognise this great dismissal, giving Women the right to flourish. That ban was in place for 51 years, 51. Imagine how the game would be for the Men, lacking 51 years of development? And we criticise the level of the game which could have easily been on a praiseworthy level without being condescending or sympathetic.

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