While (mostly "white"*) men tried to help girls/women playing football, one group of feminists stopped it and later feminists blamed it on men.* "Colored" or "black" men were (and still are to a high degree) hampered by sexist islam (and other "monotheist cultures").
Right part of the image from Peter Klevius web museum which hasn't been touched for more than a decade.
Peter Klevius PhD research long time ago (added by newer citations below) revealed that the English FA in December 1921 only banned women from playing on its grounds because of strong pressure from feminists.
In Sweden the feminist Group Eight, founded 1968, vehemently opposed girls and women playing football.
Extract from Peter Klevius Born to Play a Sport of Nature exemplifying the above:
An examination of one of Sweden’s foremost feminist organizations in the late 1960s and 1970s, the left wing communism inspired Grupp Åtta (Group 843), reveals that sport was seldom debated in positive terms among its members. Furthermore, football was seen as an ‘unacceptable and uninteresting “masculine” form of culture’ (Hjelm 2004: 277). This is the more contradictory because, according to Hjelm, the same feminists also proposed that women, at an individual as well as at a collective level, should try and learn new activities – such as, for example, amateur painting, and performing political music and theater – things they had not dared to try before (Hjelm 2004: 177). Under the feminist Group 8, Swedish females would most probably not have been encouraged to play football.
For feminists and the political left in Sweden competitive sports in general, and especially football, were ‘hopelessly characterized by masculinity’, and, according to one informant from the original Group 8, sport supervisors and teachers of gymnastics were among the worst ‘indoctrinators of our rigid sex role patterns’ (Hjelm 2004: 276). Another aspect of the female resistance against female football seems related and very consistent over time. Whereas in the 1920s the concern about dangers facing sporting females targeted the reproductive organs, in the 1960s the focus was laid on ‘dangling’ breasts, and more recently on the disturbed menstruation cycle. In England, the concern about female fragility has led to the situation that girls and boys aged 12 are not allowed to play against each other (Kosonen 1991, Seiro 2002 in Paavola 2003: 33). All of these can be seen as different aspects of the same underlying resistance, especially targeting football and seemingly paradoxically including many female critics.
It has been noted that sporting females have not internalized role conflicts (Laitinen 1983, 34). However, asks Paavola (2003: 43), herself a footballer, if sporting females do not experience role conflicts, would it be possible that those women for whom sport does cause such conflicts, do not participate in sport because of this? This conclusion may be adapted not only to the case of the Swedish feminist Group 8 above but also, and similarly, to all the girls that have avoided football precisely because it poses role conflicts. In this light, the Swedish feminists from the 1970s described above seem to have been basically separatist and hence ‘real feminists’ as it is understood here, and consequently for a continuing sex segregation. Furthermore, a logical consequence of this reasoning would be that much of the so called ‘equal-feminist’ movement was not feminist after all, but rather a social twin to the early women’s movement for the vote and other equal rights.
During the course of World War I, football in England changed. From having been a tough sport practiced by lower class males, it evolved into a two-sex, and even mixed-sex sport. This development is best exemplified by the case of Lily Parr and Dick, Kerr’s Ladies. Whereas Lily Parr took her first steps towards the position as the first woman in the football’s hall of fame, freed from femininity among males on the rough backyards and streets of St. Helen, Dick, Kerr’s Ladies developed from a mixed-sex factory team to one of England’s most successful female teams. With the young males serving in the war, factory girls continued playing and soon challenged neighbouring teams as well as national teams.
By the end of 1921 it is estimated that some 150 women’s football clubs were active in England, mainly in the North and Midlands (Williams & Woodhouse 1991:93). This pattern is similar as to that of Sweden, i.e. that it was not the biggest cities that functioned as a fertile ground for women’s football but rather the opposite. It may also be noted that the public success of women’s football in the early 1920s just followed a similar boost on the men’s side (Williams & Woodhouse 1991:94). Two main explanations for the English FA ban on women’s football may be suggested:
▪ Money and power.
▪ Fear of defeminization (or demasculinization).
Initially, and for quite some time, the monetary, as well as other practical aspects of the women’s charity games, seemed to have developed to the satisfaction of all, including the F.A. According to Williamson (1991: 58), ‘because of the level of co-operation shown to the girls by the men's clubs, and the increasingly well-oiled operation of the charities in organising the games in the first place, the F.A. was content with the way things were going.’ This state of the matter, however, lasted only ‘until certain rumours began to filter through to the hierarchy of the Football Association.’ The actual source of these rumours has never been discovered.
The FA had debated the financial repercussions of continuing with women's matches for months before the decision. According to Williams (2003), the decision appeared to be about the Football League and Association's continued attempts to recoup and defend a masculine image for football. It was impossible to stop women playing per se, but those who did participate were simultaneously seen to behave in an inappropriate manner, in places where they ought not to be. The ban spread across Britain quickly (Williams 2003:32). ‘To recoup and defend a masculine image’, of course, simultaneously implies to recoup and defend a feminine image. This relation ought to be considered when making this evaluation.
Throughout his autobiography Fifty Years of Football 1884-1934 Frederick Wall, Secretary of the FA at the time of the ban, clearly expresses his hostile views against professionalism and commercialism connected to football. I was asked, writes Wall, to referee the first women's football match at Crouch End. I declined, but I went to see the match and came to the conclusion that the game was not suitable for them (Wall 1935/2006: 15-16).
Mary Scharlieb, an influential Harley street physician, expressed her opinion as: ‘I consider it (football) a most unsuitable game, too much for a woman's physical frame’ (Williamson 1991:55). This paraphrasing from a woman physician seems well in line with the wording in the FA ban. After all, the ban was based on a previously arranged meeting with experts on women's health.
Another precursor to the ban may have been the publication of London physician Arabella Kenealy's Feminism and Sex Extinction in 1920 which, according to Russell (1997), outlined the supposed ‘sterilizing’ influences of competitive games, at the same time as the National Birth Rate Commission expressed concern over the fall in the rate of childbirth. Iimmediately after 1921 came a debate in the Lancet and in educational circles over the effects on women of athletics and sport in general. The Board of Education's Chief Medical Officer (assumingly a male) called for more of physical education for girls at the same time as other98 contributors to the Lancet suggested that women's health had been permanently damaged by athletics. The 'Sexless gymnast' reached the national press, a focus of complex anxieties about the appropriate role of women. This was potentially as damaging to the movement for women's physical education as the Victorian 'overstrain' argument (Russell 1997: 97 cited in Williams 2003: 35). The male Mayor of Liverpool commented thus on the proposed ban by FA:
‘I may mention that in the past and present seasons I have watched about 30 ladies' football matches between various teams and I have met the players. I have travelled with them frequently by road and rail ....On all sides I have heard nothing but praise for the good work the girls are doing and the high standard of their play. The only thing I hear from the man in the street is ‘Why have the FA got the knife out for women's football? What have the girls done except raise large sums for charity and play the game? Are their feet heavier on the turf then the men's teams?’ (London Lesbian Kickabouts 2007-04-02).