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‘Difficult talks’ are needed to develop women’s football

If you had told me five years ago that women’s football would be where it is today I would not have believed you.

Sold-out stadiums, prime-time televised matches at the weekend and England’s Euro win on home soil are the stuff of dreams. While it’s important to celebrate progress, it’s even more important to continue to have the tough conversations needed to keep the game fair.

The past month has been a stark warning about the dangers of complacency in our struggle to end hardship, after women found themselves marginalized when the going gets tough.

In interview no Bloomberg published this week, Manchester United’s new owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe admitted that plans for the future of the women’s club are yet to be finalised.

When asked why, he said “they were focused on solving the problems of the first team”. Through his choice of words, Ratcliffe managed to single-handedly express the belief that the women’s team is second to the men – a huge blow to the women’s FA Cup winning team in May.

Outside of the WSL, the starkness of inequality is even greater. It has recently emerged that, due to financial difficulties, the entire women’s wing at Reading Football Club, including the girls’ school, is at risk of being closed.

We also got to see high-profile players, such as England and Arsenal striker Beth Mead, who publicly shamed non-league club Thornaby FC by announcing plans to ax their entire women’s team, after what they described as a “difficult year”.

Although the decision has been overturned, there is no denying that a few weeks have passed in this women’s game. It shows that despite progress, women are still considered inferior to their male counterparts, and we can’t forget to continue advocating for change.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has come under fire for his comments on the future of Manchester United Women

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has been criticized for his comments on the future of Manchester United women / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

What role do actors have in affecting change?

We are lucky in women’s football to have a lot of players who are willing to cross paths, speak up and challenge those in the industry to do better.

Manchester City’s Alex Greenwood is the latest in a long line to highlight the urgent need to bring the tough talks forward.

She attended and spoke at Fifpro’s Women’s Player Summit in Bilbao last month, which gave players the opportunity to give direct answers to issues that affect them.

Despite admitting that he is “less educated on some of the topics that are going on”, he called for “more education on what is going on”.

“That was one of the main reasons I came here, apart from having the passion to improve the game and be a voice for change,” said Greenwood.

“It’s an important event because we’re talking about topics that you might not be comfortable talking about in different situations and they open up conversations that don’t happen enough in my opinion.

Greenwood started his career in 2010 with Everton, and is now at the top of his game with Manchester City and as an England international. He was the first captain of Manchester United and has experience playing in France, winning the Champions League with former club Lyon.

He went on to express his belief that the influential players can have in achieving positive changes: “When we talk about the calendar, when we talk about injuries, when we talk about the welfare of the players and the surrounding areas, we are the ones who live all the time. a day and a voice that we have can have the power for positive change.

“Everyone’s experiences and opinions will be very different, which is why we have to be open-minded and engage in those difficult conversations.”


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