CIES Project - History of Women's Football in Scotland 1890-1939

Project Details


2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the English Football Association’s ‘ban’ on women’s football. Yet, 100 years on we have little understanding of the impact of that ‘ban’ or how, why and where women’s football developed within the nations which make up the United Kingdom. Existing academic research which has sought to addressed the early history of women’s participation in football in Britain has tended to focus almost exclusively on the English experience. There has been no comprehensive academic study of the developments in each of these nations, however recent small localised studies suggest that these developments were complex and regionally variable. This project will focus on the development of women’s football in Scotland from its earliest origins to the outbreak of World War Two.

This project will, for the first time map, the diverse range of teams and competitions which emerged in the formative years of the women’s game between 1880 and the late 1930s, across Scotland. The research I intend to carry out will allow for a more comprehensive and robust understanding of the early development of women’s football throughout Britain. This study will also be set within its wider European context.

Scotland is an important focus as it was the last European Football Association to formally recognise the women’s game in 1973. It has often been assumed by the press, players and organisations that the women’s game was only began to develop in Scotland from the 1960s, culminating with the founding of Scottish Women's Football Association (SFWA) in 1971. At a time when the profile of the women’s game has taken on a new significance within Scottish culture it seems right to explore and celebrate its long yet under discussed history and heritage. This research will like well with the agendas of, FIFA and the Scottish Football Association, who are both committed to growing the women’s game through active promotion and investment.

This project seeks to trace the roots of the women’s game back to their origins in the early twentieth century, in doing so it will address a significant gap in both regional and national understandings of women’s football. As such the development of the women’s game within Scotland represents an important case study, which offers a different perspective to the established historiography and to underpin current discussions in the future of the game.
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UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


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