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The Women’s Game: It sure Ain’t Beautiful!

With the men’s game now predominated by the usual summer of musical chairs for millionaires, have you taken in the opportunity to watch any of the UEFA Women’s World Cup currently taking place in France?

I have, and although I am in some agreement here with the sentiments of writers like Sean Ingle et al on many aspects of the ladies game, he and many of his sports writing colleagues don’t dare to touch upon the absolute dire standard of the football on display. If this is this cream of women’s football then it’s leaving quite a sour taste in the mouth. I’m all for mass participation in sport at every level, for every sex and for whatever that sport might be. But watching dozens of ponytails kick the ball in a multitude of directions accompanied by a complete absence of any composure, positional sense, defensive organisation, midfield link-up play, creativity or vision wants me to scream that the emperor has no clothes. At one stage I had an incling to switch over and watch F1 but fortunately things haven’t gotten that bad… yet! Anyway, I have a lot of sympathy for those BBC, TalkSport and other presenters, commentators and journalists who usually earn their living commentating on the men’s game, but who know full well that what they are commentating upon is essentially rubbish, but they know better to keep their opinions to themselves lest they become shredded in a torrent of allegations of sexist bile followed by a trip to their nearest Social Security Office. You see, in this PC world it’s simply not allowed to watch women’s professional football through any critical eye and wonder aloud how anybody would pay these players a salary for a product that if you purchased it from a supermarket you’d be asking for a refund.

Now I don’t know what your average woman pro footballer earns, but from what I’m seeing, if it’s more than a hairdresser then their money certainly needs to be trimmed. Granted there has been some entertaining moments in the competition thus far, but alas the entertainment has been more of the pantomime variety.

The games are riven with the softest of goals, the pace of each one is slower than Michael Carrick, the goalkeepers are obviously pulled randomly from a bar five minutes before kick-off and the powerless shots at goal which derive choruses of ooohs and aahhs from the mostly juvenile crowd leave me with a sense of embarrassment and the overall feeling that I’m being sold a pup.

It’s worse when you consider that some of these women’s teams are being coached by previous top Premier and foreign league players who seem to spend most of their time handing out Kleenex.  Obviously we might expect some deficit in the physicality, speed and skill departments of the women’s game, but what I don’t fully understand is how almost none of the teams on show possess any defensive organisation, and the defenders themselves become enveloped in dire panic whenever they find themselves in possession twenty-five yards from their own goal with the accompanying thirty thousand, excited pubescent screams ringing in their ears before the ball is hoofed, usually anywhere. It’s become somewhat amusing to listen to the coterie of female commentators who are well versed in the vernacular of the game, as it’s expressed in respect of the men, and who have all of the buzz phrases and clichés  in relation to ‘the high press’ , ‘a goal good enough to win any game,’ ‘she has two good feet,’ she’s a top,top,top, player and my particular favourite of this tournament ‘Make the keeper work,’ which as far as the keepers themselves are concerned, is falling on deaf ears.

I wish it was better but it isn’t and for all of the marketing, publicity and halabaloo that accompanies women’s football it cannot mask the obvious fact that it is more style over substance….rather like F1?


17th June 2018

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