‘The FA has made huge strides in creating opportunities for women and girls to play our national sport. Indeed, football is now officially the biggest female team sport in England.’ Those are the first two sentences on the FA’s website regarding women and girl’s football.
But for all the talk about promoting the women’s football, their narrative above, the FA have a funny way of showing how much they value the women’s side of the game.
This evening, Manchester City men’s team take on Real Madrid in the semi-final of the Champions League. It’s apparently set to be an enthralling encounter, with the blues leading 4-3 from the first leg (whether UEFA will allow a second consecutive all-English final remains to be seen).
But, an hour earlier, City’s Women kick off against Birmingham City, as the blue girls chase a spot in next season’s Champions League.
And, only yesterday, the FA changed the kick off time for their potentially crucial match at West Ham from 4.30pm to 2pm on 15th May. Did they completely forget that the Women’s FA Cup Final takes place on the same day with a 2.30pm kick off?
There are many fans who would have loved to watch the City girls as they try to capture their second piece of silverware this season, but thanks to the FA, who bowed to Sky’s TV demands, they now have to choose between the two, as they do tonight.
So, the question is, does the FA actually give a damn about the women’s game, or are they speaking empty words when they say how valuable it is? To allow Sky to change the kick-off time that then clashes with the final of their own competition is simply not acceptable. It shows a deep lack of respect for the women’s game and could be viewed as putting the men’s game at a higher importance than that of the women’s match.
In today’s world of fairness and equality, the FA have, once again, proved themselves anything but. Can we expect anything to change? Highly unlikely. Until the FA stop taking instructions from their TV company overlords and deliver the game back into the hands of paying supporters, we can expect this to continue.
And for all their rhetoric, it will no doubt be the women’s game that suffers the most.