On 5 December 1921, the Football Association issued a ban on women’s football on the grounds that “the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged.”
The FA’s action was a response to the growing popularity of the women’s game in the early part of the 20th century–popularity which some FA members believed was beginning to threaten the success of men’s football.
The Dick, Kerr’s Ladies were formed in 1917 at the Dick Kerr and Co. munitions factory in Preston. They were highly successful and played charity matches in front of large crowds, such as the 53,000 who showed up to see their match against St. Helen’s Ladies at Goodison Park on 26 December 1920.
The FA ban, however, stifled the growing women’s game and prevented any women’s sides from playing on grounds belonging to any Football League member. While unofficial matches continued to be played, they did not capture the popularity they had enjoyed before the ban. Dick Kerr’s started a rapid decline and disbanded in 1965.
In 1969, driven by England’s World Cup success in 1966, female footballers and their supporters formed a new Women’s Football Association. The FA eventually recognized the distaff side of the sport in 1971 and, in 2008, officially apologized for the ban
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