The buzz and excitement around the start of the Women’s Super League (WSL) this season has been bigger than before. Every year it does so. Over 8,000 fans packed in the Emirates stadium for Arsenal vs Chelsea was joyous to see.
A five-goal thriller set the mood for the rest of the season as a Chelsea fan. Where once the FA banned football for women as it was ‘unsuitable for females’, now young girls can dream of growing up to become footballers too. The ban stunted the growth of women’s football massively.
But, a hundred years later and we are seeing young girls and women going to more football matches. The ‘if you can see it, you can be it’s factor is existent for today’s generation, which is inspiring to watch.
That is huge in itself. But, it’s just as important to see how the quality of football has evolved. The sheer talent in the Women’s Super League (WSL) is fantastic to see and knowing that Sky Sports will cover the WSL for the next three seasons is a real game-changer.
But, there’s still a lot to do – starting with in-game technology.
Women’s football needs the same technological resources
Women’s football has been pegged back enough in past. From financial struggles, inadequate facilities, and no television coverage – the first of which they still struggle with, especially lower league teams. Women’s football has come a long way and continues to walk up the slope to the very top.
“The game’s professional, but the officiating isn’t” – Sue Smith said whilst on co-commentary duties with Sky Sports. A bold statement which many people would not disagree with.
The WSL and Women’s Championship officials starting this year, are overseen by Bibiana Steinhaus, who became the first woman to referee in the top German League, the Bundesliga. The trailblazer is a huge asset in the move to professionalise the officiating in the women’s game.
But, seeing Chelsea go down 3-1 to an offside goal was shocking in a sense. Did the referee’s not see that? Beth Mead was in an obvious offside position when Mana Iwabuchi played the ball into her feet.
After the game, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said: “We have all got used to VAR and goalline technology so I feel by not having it in the women’s game, it is like being second-class citizens,” said Chelsea boss Hayes.”
It’s not surprising to see Hayes unhappy about the situation regarding technology in the game right now – losing their opening game to an offside goal would have stung for the reigning champions.
Especially taking into account that Chelsea lost only once last season.
It does however ask the question why do referees in women’s football not have equal access to in-game technology?
Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) and goal-line technology are not currently implemented in the women’s game and Chelsea’s first game of the season showed just why it’s so needed.
VAR has been through its ups and downs in football since it was introduced in the men’s game alone, last season. Sure enough, it’s a system that will evolve and get better with time.
But, to have its absence in the women’s game is a misfire. Where we now have the quality of players, facilities, and management for a lot of teams – the absence of technology is not helping referees who are also evolving with the game.
Women’s football needs to have equal access to resources for it to function at the highest possible levels.
The other side of the argument is that the women’s game should be investing money into other parts of the game, including at the grassroots level, prize money, and match-officials.
All are valid points and need attention. But, women’s football shouldn’t accept the loss of technology because of finances. Support from the men’s team and clubs would be highly influential in making a move like this possible too.
WSL football needs to be on par with the highest possible levels. The women’s game deserves the standard of competition to be regulated in the same way. Referees could do with the help and it would leave no doubt in people’s minds that the right decision was made on the pitch.
Do you think VAR and goal-line technology should be introduced to the WSL? Follow our new CareFreeChelsea Writer Renuka Odedra on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
Source by Football London