The Football Association banned women’ football from 1921 until 1971. Despite this and countless other setbacks, the England women’s team has now done something that the men’s team hasn’t done since 1996: reach the semifinals of a major tournament, thus proving that it is still possible for an English team to do this, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Whereas England’s men’s team finished last in their group at the 2014 World Cup, the Lionesses came from behind to beat Norway in the round of 16 and then beat host nation Canada 2–1 in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals for the first time ever and a meeting with defending champions Japan.
Being English, the team did nearly succumb to their country’s powerful allergy to the later rounds of tournament play. After building up a 2–0 lead against Canada within the first 15 minutes, Christine Sinclair scored one for the home side in the 42nd minute and England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley had to come off in the 52nd minute when her eye swelled up for no apparent reason (other than being English and being exposed to a possible semifinal berth, of course).
But this team is strong. Lucy Bronze, who has scored the winning goal in each of their last two matches, her middle name is literally “Tough.” (Chris Smalling’s middle name is “Lloyd.”)
England fans, who long ago learned to ignore international football and the certain shame it brings, are starting to come around as they witness the once unthinkable sight of players in England shirts giving their all, unified as a cohesive team, and coming up big when it matters most.
“Get rid of Wayne Rooney [the forgettable captain of the men’s squad],” said a guy wearing a motorcycle helmet as he watched Bronze’s winner against Norway in the video below.
Regardless of whether this team reaches the final, they have still proven themselves to an entire nation that has been let down time and time again. Clearly the takeaway here is that it might be time the FA bans men’s football for 50 years or so.