FOR HALF a century - between 1921 and 1971, the Football Association, which governs the sport in England, forbade women from playing in FA-affiliated pitches.

''The game'', it opined, '' is quite unsuitable for females.''

And now : Tell that to the fans. The Women's World Cup, held last year in Australia and New Zealand sold more than 1.8 million tickets, breaking the previous world record  of 1.3 million in Canada in 2015.

The television audience doubled the previous record of 1 billion. The level of play is higher across the board.

The struggle for women's football to be taken seriously has, so far, meant fighting for equality with the men's game. In terms of money and exposure, it still has a long way to go.

Although women's prize money has more than tripled since the previous World Cup, it is still only 25% of men's hauls. The disparity of club wages is cavernous.

One reason is that women's sport in general accounted for just 13% of TV sports coverage in Britain in 2022, and 5% in America in 2019.

But on the field itself, football is scrupulously equal. Women play on the same-size pitch, with the same-size ball and the same rules as men. And yet in sport that sort of equality is not always a good idea.

Feminists have long argued, correctly, that women are not just men with long hair.

The unthinking assumption that men are the  '' default human ''  means that everything from drugs and smartphones to stab vests and airbags has been designed in ways that are inconvenient or dangerous for the female users.

This  Precis  continues. The World Students Society thanks The Economist


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