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12 Days of Football 2019/20: Nine ladies playing

Sunday 29th December 2019
In a World Cup year, women impacted football in all manner of ways.
In a World Cup year, women impacted football in all manner of ways.

On the ninth day of football,
UEFA gave to me
Nine ladies playing,
Eight managers managing,
Seven sides-a-sinking,
Six games amazing,
Five Golden Goals!
Four calls blown,
Three French clubs,
Two title races and 
Liverpool and Man City

Welcome to this year's edition of the 12 Days of Football on It's Round and It's White. Over the holiday fixtures, our writers will look back on the 2019 calendar year and ahead to the season's end in a series of 12 articles covering different issues and leagues in European football. Today, Martin Palazzotto examines prominent women in the game and their different methods of coping with inequality. Enjoy.

When it banned women's football in 1921, the Football Association did not cover itself in glory. That statement is not made solely from a perspective of gender equity. The decision was also bad business.

Male footballers returned from World War I in 1918. Three seasons were played during which the two genders attracted comparable crowds and interest. Threatened, the FA made the decision to ban women's football from their stadia. Since the organisation exercised jurisdiction over every venue of commercial significance, the edict was an act of corporate murder. The women's game was dead and roughly half of football's revenue potential with it.

Modern companies do business differently. When faced with stiff competition, they either buy it out or merge. Had the governors of the English game followed that path, both games would have moved forward together. The women would be decades ahead of where they are now in terms of quality. Fans wouldn't be faced with an either/or choice; they'd opt to watch both. The game's history would be far richer and so would the coffers of its owners.

Instead, sexism, along with racism, nationalism, homophobia, religious intolerance and all the other heads on the hydra known as bigotry, thrives today. In the face of discrimination and hate, women's football struggles to regain its place. Slowly but surely, it makes inroads but the fight will be long and hard with no promise of ultimate success. Nevertheless, here is a look at nine women, each waging the battle in her own unique fashion.

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Martin Palazzotto

The former editor of World Football Columns, Martin authored the short story collection strange bOUnce. He appeared in several other blogs which no longer exist. Old, he likes to bring out defunct. If outdated sport and pop-cultural references intrude on his meanderings for It's Round and It's White, don't be alarmed. He's harmless.

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