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Striving for Equality: new showcases on women’s football

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

The FIFA Museum is pleased to unveil new objects dedicated to the story of women’s football, which illustrate its long and complex history. These new objects focus on key moments for women’s football that pushed the game forward.

Since its beginnings, women’s association football has experienced many periods of popularity and decline, revealing an incredible resilience and strong will to play. We are the proud recipients of a generous donation from Danish club Boldklubben Femina, including the trophy they took home at the ‘unofficial’ women’s world cup in Italy in 1970. This trophy is the centrepiece of the showcases, highlighting a significant moment in time.

A turning point for women’s football Overall, the 1970s were a turning point for women’s football, as the international tournaments held in Italy in 1970 and Mexico in 1971 showed that marginalisation did not prevent women from playing on a large scale. It also showed that women’s football was a commercially profitable endeavour, and something that would attract huge crowds. The audience at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City in 1971 for example, comprised 112,500 spectators.

An invitational tournament leads to the first FIFA Women’s World Cup Moving forward, football associations began to officially recognise women’s football throughout the 1970s and FIFA conducted a survey of the member associations to determine their thoughts on the subject, receiving a wide range of responses or none at all, indicative of the long road ahead for the women’s game. In 1988, FIFA held an invitational tournament, which led to one of the most important milestones for the sport – the creation of the Women’s World Cup in 1991.

Boldklubben Femina The Danish club BK Femina has a special place in the history of women’s football. They were Denmark’s representatives at the tournament in Italy in 1970, and took home the title on behalf of their nation. Last year, as part of the exhibition ‘Heroes: Centuries of Women’s Football, we had the pleasure of not only showcasing the trophy, but also one of the other objects they have gifted the museum, the match ball from the 1970 Final in Turin. One of their own, Birgit Schram, gave a talk at the museum focusing on her experience at the tournament and her career as a professional footballer at a time when women’s football was just beginning to be officially recognised. After the exhibition, BK Femina made the momentous decision to gift their precious objects to the museum.

The showcases At the centre of the display is the ‘Golden Angel’, the trophy lifted by BK Femina, flanked by two showcases concentrating on the journey of women’s football from the 1970s to now. The new objects are complimented by an interactive video on the Dick, Kerr’s Ladies Football club, a story highlighting the most famous team from the golden age of women’s football in the early part of the 20th century. The match ball from 1970 is shown alongside a match report from the 1988 invitational tournament held by FIFA in 1988, representing the road to official recognition.

Marta’s equality-promoting boots On the other side, a pamphlet celebrating the 25th anniversary of BK Femina is next to boots bearing an equal symbol worn by Brazilian superstar Marta as she celebrated her 16th and 17th record-breaking World Cup goals. Marta and many other footballers use the pitch to raise awareness of the steps still needed to bring women’s football to its full potential. At the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019, she pointed to the equal sign on her shoes to promote gender equality in sports as part of her goal celebrations. After Brazil was knocked out in the Round of 16, she gave a powerful speech on the subject. Nearly a year later, she told FIFA, “my message is for the next players to come, for them to understand that they need to take care of themselves and fight for more.”

Expanding the story of women’s football in the museum The addition of these objects to the museum collection and their display for the public as part of our permanent exhibit expand and compliment the story of women’s football at the museum. Together with the story of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy, they highlight the rich and complex journey of women’s association football.

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