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Why are so few women playing football?

THE ROLE MODELS: France and the USA’s women’s teams have impressed on an international stage in recent years, but the research says that women may not be watching

EIGHTY-EIGHT per cent of British women have never played in a football team, a study has found – compared to 48 per cent of men.

A third of women also feel that they wouldn’t be taken seriously if football teams were mixed and only 31 per cent of British women feel they will watch at least some of the Women’s World Cup this year, which will be hosted in France.

Despite the rise in women’s professional football in the UK across competitions such as the Women’s World Cup and FA Women’s Super League, women’s engagement in the sport is still surprisingly low.

Women are half as likely to engage with the women’s game as men are – only a staggering 18 per cent of females have ever been to watch a women’s game live, which is half the number of men.

Some young girls take part in a football training session which is sponsored by Barclays

In a poll commissioned by Powerleague, results show that 88 per cent of British women have never played in a football team, while only 48 per cent of men could claim the same.

In fact, 79 per cent of British women have never played football at all, and wouldn’t even consider it.

England defender and Manchester United skipper Alex Greenwood said: “I see myself as a role model and if I can get more girls playing, then I’ve definitely done my job.

“I think it’s fantastic that Powerleague are promoting women’s football. It encourages confidence if women know where they can go and play a game of football without being judged.”

How would both sexes feel about playing on the same team? A fifth of women and a quarter of men felt that it would be uncomfortable.

WOMEN ON THE BALL: The US women's football team

Women feared things like getting injured (36 per cent), or lack of experience on the pitch and being able to read the game compared to men (31 per cent).

A third of women felt that they wouldn’t be taken seriously and 10 per cent feel that football isn’t a game for both sexes.

Women also believe that men play the game to a much higher standard, according to the study.

Meanwhile, 11 per cent of women think their standard of play is higher, and a quarter of Brits feel that both sexes are on the same level.

Just under a half of men (48 per cent) also feel that they would be worried about hurting women on the pitch and feel that they would have to go in lighter for tackles – and they believe power and strength is lacking in the women’s game.

More than a quarter asked to consider mixed games (26 per cent) are concerned that female players would be rude and aggressive on the pitch.

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