'The game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged': a comparative analysis of the 1921 English Football Association ban on women's football in Britain and Ireland

Fiona Skillen*, Helena Byrne, John Carrier, Gary James

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

On 5 December 1921, the English Football Association (FA) implemented a ban on affiliated clubs allowing women’s teams to use their grounds and the use of FA registered referees, thus undermining and restricting the women’s game. The FA claimed that football was unsuitable for women and that it should not be encouraged. 2021 also marks 50 years since UEFA directed its members to recognise women’s football. The FA ban has been well documented; however, the English experience of the ban implemented by the FA has been conflated with the experience of the rest of Britain and Ireland. This article examines the impact, the FA ban had on women’s football in these regions. It explores if a similar ban was introduced by the four other British and Irish governing bodies (Scottish Football Association, Welsh Football Association, Irish Football Association and the Football Association of Ireland formerly the Football Association of the Irish Free State) and what impact this had on women’s football there.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-75
Number of pages27
JournalSport in History
Volume42
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • sport history
  • football
  • women's football
  • gender history
  • women's sport
  • football history
  • scotland
  • 1921 ban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

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