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Globalising Women’s Football

Europe, Migration and Professionalization


Jean Williams

With an estimated 26 million female players globally (6 million based in Europe), the evolution of football has been dramatic. Growth in the women’s game has led to more widespread player migration as new forms of professionalism emerge. This work explores those patterns of movement into, and out of, Europe using new archival evidence and player interviews.


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Conclusion: Mobility, Professionalism and Football’s Changing Cultural Values 89


Conclusion: Mobility, Professionalism and Football’s Changing Cultural Values 6SRUWUHPDLQVRQHRIWKHPRVWFRQVHUYDWLYHDQGLQÀH[LEOHDUHDVRISXEOLF life, lagging far behind other social structures. Distributional data has demonstrated that in Europe, despite more than a decade of strategies and actions to support progress towards gender equity in sports organisations, women are still under-represented in executive and decision-making posi- tions (Talbot 2000). When Fanny Blankers-Koen won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympic Games as a thirty year old mother of two, the British Press called KHU©7KH)O\LQJ+RXVHZLIHª,Q(PPD%\UQHWKH$UVHQDO/DGLHV¶ Irish goalkeeper was also praised for her domestic skills, after telling a magazine that after football, she enjoyed making bread (Sky Sports 2011: 17). That a magazine like Sky Sports should feature a woman footballer at all indicates how much has changed in the last sixty years. Foregrounding her domestic abilities as the focus of the article illustrates continuities in the cultural value of sport and in media perceptions of female of athletes. )RRWEDOO¶V ©PDQO\ª FXVWRPV KDYH EHHQ HQGXULQJ HYHQ ZKLOH UHVHDUFK into female participation over the last century is now well-established in academic circles and cultural industries (Yates and Vasilli 2011). Sever- DO\RXQJDGXOW¿FWLRQWLWOHVGHGLFDWHGWRWKHPHVDURXQGZRPHQ¶VVRFFHU which also draw on longer histories dating back to The Football Favourite in the early 1920s (Bhattacharya 1992; Boaler 1994; Dhami 2011; Pieli- chaty 2009). So it is important to emphasise that both on the pitch and off, the meanings around the game have long been contested. In the search to give a feminine-appropriate...

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