Women's football

Georgina Turner went to Germany to watch the 2011 Women's World Cup, which had underdog winners, individual skill and a welcoming atmosphere

I don't make a habit of arm-wrestling strangers for the bar bill, but we've been in Wolfsburg for hours, and Robert and Tilo haven't let anyone else buy a round yet. People are in town for the Women's World Cup and in FIFA's fan mile – essentially an oversized wedding marquee, with widescreen TVs and a Beatles tribute act ("All you need is luff, la la lalalah") – the mood is wunderbar.

Natalia Sollohub examines whether a proposed semi-professional women's super league will actually happen

Anyone with even a passing interest in the women’s game in England will get a sense of déjà vu on hearing that a new summer league is due to kick off in 2011. The same announcement was greeted with much rejoicing just over a year ago with more than the required eight teams preparing applications to join the semi-professional Super League.

Another England quarter‑final exit... Anjana Gadgil assesses the progress of the women’s team and explains why the host nation struggles for players despite a population of 1.6 billion

Imagine a Premier League footballer and England international having to scrimp and save to play for their national team. It just wouldn’t happen in the men’s game. But footballers who double up as postwomen, teachers and PAs have to save to go on a week’s package to Marbella, let alone to spend six weeks playing at last month’s Women’s World Cup in China. Arsenal right-back Alex Scott is one example. She teaches sport science at schools in London, but had to take unpaid leave to go to the Far East. Likewise team-mate and football coach Mary Philip, who describes herself as ­“penniless” when she plays for England. She lives on a council estate in north London with her husband and two children and was one of the few players whose family weren’t in the stands for the group-stage games. “We just couldn’t afford it,” she says.

Football has more female fans than ever before but Simon Tindall wonders if they are to likely to take an interest in the women’s game

I’ll watch any kind of football from sons and dads on the beach, pub teams in the park to the Masters tournaments on Sky. But the words “women’s football” get me reaching for the remote as fast as if the continuity man had said Formula One or Open golf. The Women’s World Cup was an opportunity to reassess this position. The manner of the coverage on the BBC and in quality press obliges you to be interested, to view this as a “good thing” – like five fruit and veg a day – as opposed to a “bad thing” to be media‑ignored like speedway, greyhounds or most boxing.

What's next for women's football? Steve Menary reports

As more money pours into the Premier League through television, where this cash should end up – apart from players’ pockets – is a topical subject. One area barely receiving a mention is women’s football. Five years ago, then FA chief executive Adam Crozier decided the top flight of the women’s game should go professional. This idea was swiftly exposed as financially unviable and rapidly died, but women’s football certainly hasn’t.

In spite of Sepp Blatter's recent crass remarks, football females are on the rise and England may soo have a professional league, as Dianne Millen writes

As tantrums go, it was almost Keeganesque. When Albion Rovers went down 1-0 to Montrose earlier this season, then manager Peter Hetherston was in no doubt about where to direct his fit of pique: at Morag Pirie, Scotland’s most senior female official. “I knew it wasn’t going to be our day when I found out we had a woman running the line,” he ranted. “She should be at home making the dinner for her man after he has been to the football. This is a professional man’s game.”

Yuriko Saeki became only the second woman to manage a Western European men's professional team. Luke Gosset talks to the Japenese coach – briefly manager – of Spanish lower division side Puerta Bonita

FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s comments linking the popularity of women’s football to a lady’s willingness to wear tighter shorts left Japanese coach Yuriko Saeki decidedly unimpressed.

Nowhere is the women’s game more buoyant than in Germany. Margot Dunne  reports on the homecoming for the World Cup winners and the hopes for a full-time league

Six months ago, all the average German male knew about women’s football could be written on the back of a beer mat with a blunt bockwurst. But all that was before October 12 last year when Nia Künzer’s golden goal in the final against Sweden shot her country to World Cup glory. The team returned from America and were over­whelmed by the kind of frenzied reception to which their male counterparts grew accustomed in recent decades. The trophy was paraded in front of thousands of screaming fans in Frankfurt; there were chat show appearances for coaches Tina Theune-Meyer and Sylvia Neid; and end­less magazine covers featured the new world champions in all their fresh-faced whole­someness. Journalists voted them “Team of the year” at Germany’s Sports Personality Awards – a title bestowed the previous year on Rudi Völler’s men.

Mike Woitalla explores where it all went wrong

One must be careful, when sending out emails, not to hit the wrong button. Take a girls’ soccer coach in Wisconsin. This man claims he in­tended to send the pornographic video of himself to his girlfriend. Instead, the video arrived at the family email address of one of his teenage players and was opened by the girl’s mother. He ain’t coaching anymore. In April 2002, an official of the Women’s United Soccer Assoc­iation (WUSA) made an electronic error of far less egregious proportions. It did, however, shed some light on women’s soccer in the US.

With China beckoning, Paula Cocozza checks on the development of England's feminine side

When the whistle blew on England’s 1-0 win over Iceland at St Andrews on September 22, the coaching staff and subs ran on to the pitch and the players hugged each other as one. It was the way almost every positive result that had taken them this far – to the brink of the 2003 World Cup in China – had been greeted. In the press room afterwards the England manager Hope Powell searched for the right words. “I think it’s... it’s relief,” she said.

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