With the beautiful game having been dominated by men for so many years, the women's game has, by now, given us many moments to savour. Here are the 5 greatest moments to have happened in the short history of women's soccer:
The First Ever Women's International Game - April 17, 1971
Women’s football games had been played all over the globe prior to 1971 but just not officially. FIFA had not recognized the women’s game as part of the sport, but under increased pressure for proper events, tournaments and recognition, FIFA and then in turn, UEFA decided to integrate the female game into their organisations. And so, on a pleasant spring day in April, 1971 an official international friendly between France and Holland took place with the French hosts claiming a 4-0 victory. Only a meagre 1,500 people turned up to watch the spectacle, and I imagine most of them were only there to witness the swapping of shirts at the end (that didn’t even happen!). The match was deemed a success although it took another twenty years before the first international women’s world cup would take place in 1991.
U.S.A wins the 1999 Women's World Cup on Penalties
In front of a daunting 90,000 local fans at the Rose Bowl in California and in searing heat, Brandi Chastain stepped up to take the penalty that, if scored would crown the U.S.A tournament champions. Dispatching the penalty in the top left-hand corner of the goal, the ensuing celebrations have become iconic in women’s football. Chastain, instantly ripped her jersey off as the exhausted American team come charging towards her and the defeated Chinese look on inconsolably. It seemed for the first time in the history of the women’s game, the U.S team had fully experienced the pure ecstasy that the men’s game had shown us could happen on the hallowed turf.
Germany's Golden Goal at the European Championships - 2003
When it comes to European Women’s football, nobody comes near to dominating like Germany. Having won seven of the last eight Euro championships, the German team are the kind of outfit that destroys any hope of a well fought, two sided match. However, in the 2003 Euro final, Sweden, having gone ahead in the first half seemed to be putting on quite a battle for spectators and after 90 minutes the score stood at 1-1. Thus followed the only golden goal to ever decide a final as Germany’s Nia Kunzer nodded in a header to send the Germany players and fans (relatively) wild. Just a few months later the golden goal rule was scrapped by FIFA. Bloody Germans!
Marta Vieria Da Silva
It is perhaps strange to have, just one woman in a list of greatest moments in Women’s football but I feel Da Silva is certainly worthy of having her own place here. Arguably the best individual talent to grace the women’s game, a skilful and tricky forward, Da Silva managed to bag five consecutive FIFA player of the year awards showing that her ability rarely showed signs of wavering. Having first played in her World Cup for Brazil aged 17, Da Silva scored about 15 minutes into the first game of the tournament against Korea in 2003. Her many goals against the USA have also seen De Silva become a prolific name on the world stage, none more so than her second goal in the 2007 world cup semi-final versus the American giants, a game which Brazil ended up winning.
Palestine Play First International at Home - 26 October 2009
The pairing of football and Muslim women doesn’t seem an obvious one, especially if the Muslim women were from Palestine. Men’s football is only just starting to launch itself properly in the Middle East so when the Palestine female squad got the go ahead to host a friendly in October 2009 there was more than a spark of controversy in the air. Training on a concrete patch within Bethlehem University no one expected any heroics from the Palestinians when it came to the match against Jordan. However, in front of a 10,000 all-female crowd in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian team earned a 2-2 draw (although the two Palestinian goals came from dubious penalty claims) in front of home fans and a large police contingent.