Badass Bodies: Women’s World Cup 2015

We’re riding a sports wave over at LC: from gritty marathon runners to inspirational yoga instructors, these awesome women make us want to push harder. In honor of Saturday’s Women’s World Cup kickoff, we take a look back at the history of women playing the beautiful game: soccer.

Image courtesy of CNN

Although it was not formally acknowledged at the time, women have been playing soccer since the English Football Association standardized the game’s rules in 1863. In 1920, two women’s teams in Liverpool played in front of a crowd of over 50,000; threatened by the popularity of the game, the EFA banned women’s teams from practicing on the same fields as men’s teams. After other European states founded women’s teams, England finally lifted the practice ban in 1971, a year before the United States passed Title IX calling for equal funding for women’s sports.

Image courtesy of CNN

While the inaugural men’s World Cup took place in 1930, women waited to participate until 1991. At the time, FIFA president João de Havelange organized the tournament with twelve qualifying teams instead of the men’s 24. But women’s soccer grew more popular, the rounds eventually expanded to support a 24-team structure. Just because women’s teams were allowed to play didn’t mean the path to the tournament was the same as men’s teams. When former striker Marieanne Spacey earned a spot on England’s 1995 team, she had to scramble to cover her shifts at her job. It’s doubtful that Cristiano Ronaldo has the same problem.

Image courtesy of CNN

Frustratingly, it seems that no women’s competition can exist without scrutiny. In 1999, after scoring a cup-winning penalty kick against China’s goalie, American defender Brandi Chastain took off her jersey and waved it about in celebration. While male soccer players perform this gesture on a regular basis, the media didn’t know what to do with a woman “stripping down” in public. (Guys, she was wearing a sports bra.) Perhaps this time, it will come as less of a shock when a woman celebrates a fantastic athletic achievement like a boss.

Best of luck to Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Australia, China, Japan, Korea Republic, Thailand, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, New Zealand, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the United States as they battle it out for the ultimate prize. Check back with FIFA.com for all the stats, scores, and updates.


Originally published at ladycollective.com on June 8, 2015. For updates, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr @ladycollective.

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