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Will the men in charge let the lionesses continue to roar? Dr David Webber, Senior Lecturer in Football Studies explores...

1st August 2022
Sport and fitness

Reflecting on the Lionesses triumph, the Course Leader of the Solent BSc (Hons) Football Studies course, Dr David Webber says:

“Those responsible for the women’s game must not make the same mistake that those in charge of men’s football have - focus and funding must not simply remain at the elite level.

“Messages of support from England’s male footballers are all very well, but this solidarity needs to be extended throughout the game - through the fairer distribution of football’s vast wealth, including the women’s game right down to the grassroots.”

Reflecting on the support at high levels, Dr Webber states:

“As England players and fans partied, the UK government ‘honoured’ the Lionesses victory by announcing a £230m investment in grassroots football. But this is the same Conservative government that for much of its twelve years in office, has slashed public spending and forced local councils to close the very same sports facilities that women and girls should have been able to access. What is more, £230m is a little under a quarter of what Premier League clubs spend in a typical summer transfer window.

“For all the success of the Premier League, for example, the global popularity of its clubs, and the money that the League has been able to leverage from television deals and owner investment, the men’s game is at the very least a two-tier system. These riches remain with just a handful of clubs. Grassroots football remains in a state of disrepair. Levels of playing participation, even before the pandemic were falling, and have fallen further still since.”

For those inspired by the Lionesses, and who want to get involved in the game, there has never been a better time, Dr Webber concluded:

“This is the dawning of a new age for women’s football. Challenges and barriers, of course, remain but there are now more opportunities than ever for women to play football. To watch women’s football. To even make football a life-changing career. Where female coaches, performance analysts, development officers, scouts and academy managers can inspire the next generation of male and female players. At Solent University, Southampton we are committed to growing the women’s game, to creating the right environment, and providing opportunities within football for women to flourish, realise their incredible potential, and sustain the momentum the Lionesses have kick-started.”

Women’s Euro 2022 may be over, but for women’s football, it is only the beginning. Football has finally come home, and this time it belongs to everyone. If those responsible for football in the UK can seize this golden opportunity, that will be the Lionesses greatest legacy.