Why Women’s Football Is Tougher than Men’s

Elouise Spencer - 25 August 2018

The 2018 World Cup was one of the biggest sporting highlights of the year, not only for football fanatics but also for punters and sports fans spanning the globe. Even those who are usually not really interested in football were glued to their screens, online casinos that also offer sports betting were inundated with bets, and the world came to a virtual standstill whenever a match was player. Now that it is done and dusted, the world is left to recount the tales of bravery, stupidity and field antics that saw grown men tumble across the pitch, clutching their legs in unbearable pain from a simple ankle tap. While some believe this is simply a strategy and a natural part of the game, most of us simply want to shout out “Man up and get back in there!”

Ironically, it seems that the sport does have a set of players who get knocked down, bruised, kicked and bumped around without falling to the floor screaming bloody murder. It may surprise you, but women’s football is a much rougher game, where the injuries are real, and the players are as tough as nails.

Getting On With the Game

Researchers in England conducted studies of women’s football teams in both national and college level. What they found was that with each team, the women tended to minimise their injuries and experienced higher pain thresholds when playing. There is hard evidence that women have a much higher pain threshold than men in general; a note often cited when speaking about the rigours of childbirth and how most men would not even come close to handling the pain.

Whether this is true or not is beside the point. The fact remains that on the pitch; the women fall harder and get hurt more without rolling around like three-year-olds who have had their toys taken away. According to researchers, there is a good explanation for why this occurs. It is not so much that women can handle more pain; they simply grin and bear it because they have something to prove.

The Rise and Fall of Women’s Football

Like many sports, women’s football is regarded as a “lesser sport”. The athletes know this; they are fully aware that their team will not pack out the stadiums and jam the networks when they take to the field. As such, they feel they have a point to prove about how the game is really meant to be played. Consider the history of women’s football and the obstacles that these women have to overcome in order to represent their country in a sport they love.

Women’s football got its start in the 1920’s but FIFA refused to recognise the sport in any official way. As women’s football was starting to gain momentum, head honchos at FIFA were not happy with it at all. The answer was simply to ban the sport altogether. So, this is what FIFA did. They imposed a worldwide ban on women’s professional football, citing that the game was “unsuitable for females.” The ban stayed in effect until 1971.

The World Cup

It was only in 1991 that the first Women’s World Cup took place. Hosted in China, the tournament went unnoticed in the sporting community and still does not attract as much attention as it should. Women also get paid a lot less for their roles as professional players. Even players in the top-seeded sides have to hold down day jobs to support their passion for representing their country. It is easy to see why when they do get onto the pitch, the focus is firmly placed on getting on with the game and shaking off the pain of an ankle tap.

The next Women’s World Cup will take in 2019. France will play host to the tournament and the U.S.A are currently the reigning champs. If we are to truly call ourselves sports fans or football fanatics, we should be supporting all forms of the game, especially a tournament where politics is left by the wayside and the purity and integrity of the sport is represented with honour and passion.