The Women's World Cup is underway but again the media and men's football enthusiasts, including myself, assume that it does not exist. Actually, as Marina Hyde from the Guardian pointed out in her column, England's World Cup game against Scotland averaged 4.6 million viewers and that alone proves that it is an attractive organization. Still, we have male football experts on Twitter and YouTube, claiming that women's football is horrible and it does not deserve any attention. Although I agree that there are many things to be done to increase the quality of women's football, I strongly disagree with misogynistic comments that argue women's football is worthless.
First of all, women's football never got the institutional support that men's football got. The people running football domestically and internationally have always prioritized men's football and invested almost all of their money and effort to it. For instance, in the Women's Super League (WSL) in England, which is the Premier League of women, the average salary is 27,000 pounds a year and the average salary in the U.K. - for men and women working full time - is 29,009 pounds a year. Compare this number to Premier League, where the average weekly wage is more than 50,000 pounds. Still, people expect women's football to be as competitive as men's, regardless of the enormous differences between the financial magnitudes.
However, I am not claiming that we should equalize the wages and prizes right away, the men's football did not reach this point overnight. Rather, we should focus on eliminating the institutional barriers that prevent women's football from becoming better and stronger. Many women footballers, especially the ones in the economically underdeveloped countries, report that their training grounds, facilities and means of transportation are in terrible conditions.
The England women's national football team striker Toni Duggan also pointed to this fact. "Equality for me is having a pitch to play on and hot showers in the changing rooms before we talk about the money we get." If an English football player playing for Barcelona is complaining about these issues, imagine the situation of a women football player in a poor country. If an English woman footballer earns less than the average football salary, how can women all around the world sustain their lives with football?
I think there can be some simple but very effective solutions to increase the quality of women's football in the short-term. Firstly, raising high-quality goalkeepers should be the priority, period. The quality and the seriousness of the games plummet when lots of simple goalkeeping mistakes take place. As a former goalkeeper myself, I can easily detect the fundamental problems with goalkeeping in women's football and I think teams should put more effort into improving in this area. The other solution is to use the inside of the foot more and to imitate the show-off male footballers less. The inside of the foot is a magical instrument that can elevate a team's game to the top without anything else if a game is built on it. I think women footballers should focus on using the inside of their foot better, rather than making fancy dribbles or scoring from bicycle kicks. The problem with these fancy moves are that first, they are unnecessary and second most women players do not yet have the skills to execute them.
The second reason, in my opinion, is due to the fact that girls are not allowed to play football with boys outside, so they start playing football at a later age, which makes their technique stiffer than their male colleagues. Nonetheless, they can close the gap easily by using the best instrument they have, the inside of the foot. Together with institutional support, women's football can improve further and have a better prospect.
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