Histories of Women’s Soccer

By | April 2, 2020

The last few years have seen the publication of several wonderful new works on the past and present of women’s soccer globally. Gwendolyn Oxenham’s Under the Lights and in the Dark provides a rich portrait of contemporary players making their way in different parts of the world. And last year Brenda Elsey and Joshua Nadel published a path-breaking history of women’s soccer in Latin America called Futbolera.

We have had the pleasure of hosting a few events at Duke over the past years, linked to the Soccer Politics class, showcasing some of this work. A 2015 Symposium on “The Futures of Women’s Soccer” gathered together a range of scholars, journalists, players and coaches. That gathering led to the creation of a special series at Sports Illustrated, Upfront and Onside, of coverage and analysis of the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

In 2018, we held another symposium on “The Struggle for Equality in Women’s Soccer,” which was aired as part of Grant Wahl’s Planet Futbol podcast in two parts.

One of the most remarkable stories told in Futbolera is that of the 1971 Women’s World Cup in Mexico, which happened the year after the famous Men’s World Cup there. The event drew huge crowds, and in fact the final of that tournament still holds the record for the largest crowd to watch a women’s soccer game in history. You can see footage of the game, which was played in El Azteca stadium, below.


And the documentary below (in Spanish) was produced in 2018 and includes interviews with a number of the players from the Mexican team.

Please share your thoughts and reactions to this material below in the comments!

Category: 2015 Women's World Cup Gender Latin America Women's Soccer

About Laurent Dubois

I am Professor of Romance Studies and History and the Director of the Forum for Scholars & Publics at Duke University. I founded the Soccer Politics blog in 2009 as part of a course on "World Cup and World Politics" taught at Duke University. I'm currently teaching the course under the title "Soccer Politics" here at Duke. My books include Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France (University of California Press, 2010) and The Language of the Game: How to Understand Soccer (Basic Books, 2018)

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