每日英語跟讀 Ep.K421: Women’s soccer energizes England in a league of their own
England beat Germany 2-1 in the final of the European Championship after extra time on Sunday last week to win its first major women’s soccer title. The final, which was played before a sellout crowd of more than 87,000 at historic Wembley Stadium, is seen as a watershed moment for women’s sports in England. Although the game, known here as football, is a national passion, female players have often been scoffed at and were once banned from top-level facilities. Now the women’s team did something the men haven’t done since 1966: Win a major international tournament.
Hope Powell played 66 times for England and coached the team from 1998 to 2013.
“I think we have to give thanks to the people that worked really hard before us, that went through all of that, being banned, fighting for the right to play,” Powell told the BBC. “I think we have to remember what came before is what got us to the point we are today.”
But it’s not just the victories that are attracting fans. It is how the team is winning. With money from sponsorship deals and a new TV contract supporting full-time professional players, there is more flash and polish than many expected. While they don’t play like the men’s team, that’s not a bad thing. There are fewer players flopping to the ground to draw fouls, less rolling around on the turf dramatically clutching purportedly injured knees or ankles and little shouting at the referees. Instead there is teamwork, artful passes and stunning goals like Stanway’s 20m screamer in the quarterfinal victory over Spain and the backheel from Alessia Russo in England’s 4-0 semifinal win against Sweden.
And here’s the thing: People like it.
Coach Sarina Wiegman has made a point of noting that there’s more at stake than victory alone. “We want to inspire the nation.”
Women’s football has a long and sometimes controversial history in England. The women’s game flourished during and for a few years after World War I, when teams like Dick, Kerr Ladies Football Club filled the sporting gap created as top men’s players went off to the trenches to fight. Women’s teams, many organized at munitions plants, attracted large crowds and raised money for charity. One match in 1920 attracted 53,000 spectators.
But that popularity triggered a backlash from the men who ran the Football Association, the sport’s governing body in England. In 1921, the FA banned women’s teams from using its facilities, saying “the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.” The ban remained in place for the next 50 years.
Women organized their own football association in 1969, and soon after the FA ended its ban on women. The FA took over responsibility for the women’s game in 1993, beginning the slow process of improving funding and facilities.
Things accelerated after the 2012 London Olympics, when authorities began to recognize there was a global audience for the women’s game, said Gail Newsham, author of In a League of Their Own! that tells the story of Dick, Kerr Ladies.
Last year, the FA signed a three-year deal for broadcast rights to the Women’s Super League, increasing funding and exposure for the game. Sky Sports will broadcast a minimum of 35 games a year on its pay TV channels, and the BBC will carry another 22 on its free-to-view network.
“It’s not that long ago that girls, you know, top players, were paying for their own travel to get to matches and then having to get up to go to work the next day. So all of this is helping,” Newsham said of the funding. “You can see the difference now in the professionalism of the girls playing football.”
「不久之前，女性頂尖球員還需要自付旅費去參加比賽，然後第二天必須起床去上班。所以這些都是有所助益的」，紐沙姆談到這些資金時說道。「現在這些女性足球員的專業水準不可同日而語，大家有目共睹」。Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2022/08/09/2003783186