History of women’s football: when did it arise?

History of Women's Soccer

From Tsu Chu to the first women’s soccer team. From the first official match to the Olympic Games. This is how the “king” sport for women evolved.

Although for many women’s football is a recent sport, the truth is that the “king” sport par excellence has not only been practiced by men. Women have also been, and are, important in the development of football history. It all started thousands of years ago with a game known as Tsu Chu. This game, in which women could participate, consisted of kicking a ball and trying to reach the net with any part of the body, except the hands.

However, the history of women’s football began to take shape in 1880 when the first matches between women began to be played. It was in 1894 that the first club in the history of women’s football in Great Britain was created: the British Ladies Football Club. It was founded by player Nettie J. Honeyball, coached by Tottenham Hotspur player John William Julian, and chaired by a woman, Lady Florence Dixie.

First official women’s football match

Following this event, the British Ladies Football Club organized the first official women’s football match. It was on March 23, 1895 in London and before 10,000 spectators. This match was played between North and South at the Crouch End Athletic ground with a 7-1 victory for North. The First World War was key in the massification of women’s football in England, since many men had to be recruited. 

Although women’s football achieved great success and popularity, it was not recognized by the FA at the time. And it was not until after the 1966 World Cup, specifically in 1969, when the FA decided to incorporate women. Years later, in 1971, UEFA also joined this fact and entrusted its respective partners with the management and promotion of women’s football.

Women's Football History
A women’s football team posing in a black and white photo

Incorporation in international competitions

Women’s football was increasingly recognized over the years. Although there were international competitions since 1970, they were unofficial and the first two World Cups were not recognized by FIFA.

Fans of women’s football had to wait until 1991 to celebrate the first official World Cup organized by FIFA. It was in China, where 12 teams participated before 500,000 spectators. The USA, precisely the team with the most World Cups in its history, was proclaimed the winner.

20 years of Women’s Champions League

The European Cup had to wait even longer to gain a foothold in women’s football. In fact, it has been played since 2001. 20 years ago, the first edition had the participation of 33 teams and had a champion: Frankfurt. The German team won 2-0 against Umeå in a final with a large attendance of spectators.

Since then, the number of participants in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, a name that the tournament acquired in 2009 and continues to this day, has been increasing. Under this name, a team has reigned, Olympique Lyonnais, which has managed to win this title seven times. For its part, Barcelona was the first Spanish team to win a Champions League.

Women’s football at the Olympics

In 1996 the International Olympic Committee decided to include women’s football in the Atlanta Olympic Games. 8 countries participated in these Olympics: Japan, China, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, USA and Brazil.

 Currently, there are 12 teams that participate in the biggest sporting event. Since then, the king sport in its female version has had its participation in the Olympic Games, a competition in which the USA also reigns as the country with the most awards (4).

It is clear that women also have their history in football, and that, even though there is still a long way to go, women’s football is on the right track.

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