Just one week ago Martin Samuel complained in the Daily Mail that women’s football just isn’t ‘super enough’ to warrant detailed coverage in national newspapers and this week he got his wish as most of them ignored this weekend’s games altogether.

Martin Samuel in Tuesday's Daily Mail (20/11/2018)
Martin Samuel in Tuesday’s Daily Mail (20/11/2018)

The women’s league is pushed, projected and shoved into the limelight yet in many aspects is running before it can walk,” Samuel complains, as if showing the league leaders live via the BBC red button is somehow akin to beaming it straight into everyone’s brains. “The extra attention devoted to the women’s league is not being reflected in attendances and financial strength.”

Let’s look at this ‘extra attention,’ shall we?

On Sunday, there were five FA WSL games played. This is the coverage from the national newspapers available on Pressreader:


One match report on Liverpool v Birmingham, all other games wrapped up in 54 words at the end of the Liverpool report.

Daily Mail

Nothing, not even a listing of results.


Match report on West Ham v Bristol City, no mention of other games

Daily Star

Nothing, not even a listing of results.

Daily Express

Nothing, not even a listing of results.

An argument could be made that the reason women’s football still struggles these days is precisely because it HASN’T been shoved into the limelight in the ways Samuel suggests, at least not effectively.  If you want to know what a successful marketing campaign can do for a sport, just look at how the Premier League was rebranded as the very start of football itself and compare the money in the game now to pre-Sky Sports days.

Some say there is little coverage of the game because there is little interest while others point to the fact that you need to generate interest to produce it. But the interest in women’s football is absolutely there and always has been, even if the FA did their best to crush it when they banned women’s football for 50 years because it was too popular. It’s just ignored or, at best, not taken seriously.

Football hasn’t always been with us, although it often feels like that. It’s a game that nobody – male, female or non-binary – knew how to play before 1863. By 1920, some women’s games were attracting over 50,000 supporters and some grounds were too small to cope with the demand to watch them play. Tell me again how it is ‘obviously a man’s game’ and there’s no interest in the women’s game?

It’s not and never has been ‘a man’s game’ but to break the cycle we find ourselves in, something is going to have to give. Either the media need to start giving women’s football significantly more coverage to show the public that this is something they can openly care about, or the wider public needs to change its attitude all by itself.

TV wasn’t invented until six years after women’s football was first banned. The BBC only introduced colour television four years before it was restored. By the time women were allowed to kick a ball again the men’s game had seen untold investment and exposure.

I wonder if anyone back then said, ‘it’s not super enough and probably not worth it?’