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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Allez les Filles
Monday, May 27, 2024 @ 9:25 AM

Isn’t it a grand thing when one can change one’s opinion? It doesn’t happen often in one’s adult life – beyond maybe discovering that some of those rock groups really weren’t that good after all – and yet, lookit, here we are today: fans of Spanish women’s football!

They’ve done awfully well in the last twelve months, breaking the records that men’s football can currently only dream about – championships, FIFA World Cup championships and more – indeed, the Barcelona women’s blaugranas team just beat the French Olympique Lyonnais team in the Bilbao stadium in front of 51,000 spectators to win The UEFA Women’s Champions League.  

This strange new world we live in: a proper televised women’s sporting event where a couple of fellows brought a pro-Palestinian banner on to the pitch at the beginning of the match, receiving cheers from the fans (and evident approval from the organisers).

I learned today that Women’s Football has been played in the UK since 1890 (at least) but that ‘some saw it as a threat to men’s football. The FA banned women from playing the sport at FA affiliated grounds between 1921 and 1971, with the governing body stating: “…the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and should not be encouraged”’.

In Spain, the first club ‘the Spanish Girl’s Club’ dates from 1914 (‘twenty years before women could vote’, says an article I’m reading). From the Civil War until Franco’s death, the sport was dropped – call it chauvinism if you like.

I’ve never liked football – a long game interspaced once or twice in ninety agonizing minutes with a shrieked ¡gol gol gol! from the exited commentator on the TV on the shelf behind me. ‘Who won?’, I ask without turning round.

It’s probably to do with my early school life – the choices were either soccer or Latin (or, uh, smoking on the roof of the lavatories).

But look at the players! Somebody said unkindly a few years ago that you would never get eleven women to agree to wear the same outfit in public, but suddenly we saw that this whole deal wasn’t about sexy girls, like the ones playing volleyball matches – where nobody cares about the score anyway. This was about real ones: playing sport and playing to win: an inspiration for girls everywhere. Something to make society proud.  

Luis Rubiales was the one who discovered that the age of treating young women like giddy chickies was now officially over. ‘He didn’t respect me, neither as a player nor as a person’, said Jenni Hermoso.

Now that’s a mistake he won’t make again.

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