Early Doors

Women’s football is great

Early Doors

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England kick off their Women's World Cup campaign against
Mexico in Wolfsburg today, and Early Doors - a sucker for any sort of
tournament football - will be watching it LIVE on British Eurosport!

OK, that's enough corporate lickspittling. But ED is
genuinely excited to see a tournament that has not yet disappeared up its own overhyped
backside.

Take England coach Hope Powell's pre-match quotes: "It
is going to be a tough tournament, have no doubt about that - to think for one
minutes right now England will make the final would be stupid."

It makes a refreshing change from the ludicrous World Cup
circus that forces the manager of the men's team to guarantee a success that
both he and we know is not really going to happen.

Powell has been in her job since 1998, making her the
longest-tenured England coach since Walter Winterbottom. She has not won a
major tournament in that time, but fortunately that is not held up a ludicrous
yardstick of success in the women's game, and England's appearance in the Euro
2009 final is testament to her progress.

She is good enough to keep her team on an upward trajectory,
and fortunate enough not to be targeted by tabloid hate campaigns.

In the dysfunctional world of the FA, it is like the suits
have forgotten Powell exists - HR have accidentally wiped her file from the
computer, and so she is able to get on with her job.

There's a reason nobody bothers her, you might point out -
it's only women's football. Maybe true, but the sport should not be dismissed,
and it will gain some steam during a tournament played out in largely sold-out
stadia.

In Germany, it has caused the sort of clamour for tickets
that, in this country, is only provoked by that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
to watch the Greco-Roman wrestling repechage.

Thus the Olympic Stadium buzzed with 75,000 fans plus Sepp
Blatter, who no doubt gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel the full detail of
his shorts-reduction project.

Just as your heart sinks when that crazy-eyed old bloke with
a can of Crunk Juce and a chronic BO problem sits next to you on the train, how
must Merkel have felt when Sepp sidled along and plonked his sizeable backside down?

"Ach, nein! This guy again!"

Fans of minority sports have an irritating habit of
preaching its virtues to people who know it exists, but just choose not to
follow it.

If you've listened to the breathlessly excited TV coverage
of rugby league or speedway, you'll know what ED means. Even MotoGP fans, who
have no need to feel insecure, cannot shut up about how much better it is than
F1.

So ED won't give you the hard sell on how brilliant women's
football is (well, apart from the headline) - it would be patronising and pointless.

Some people are bound to look at the slower pace of the
game, the lack of physical power and the largely comical goalkeeping, and
decide it is not for them. Fair enough.

But there is also much to admire - not least the fact that
the sport is not possessed with such an overwhelmingly cynical feeling of entitlement
that they have forgotten their job is to entertain.

There is a pleasingly old-school feel to the thing - a
mixture of quality and calamity that you don't really get in the ultra-polished
men's game.

You also get to discover great new players you had never
heard of before - like France's bag-of-tricks midfielder Louisa Necib.

No player of comparable quality would arrive at a men's
World Cup without first being the subject of a dozen billboard campaigns - but Necib can just pitch up and be brilliant, like Ferenc Puskas at Wembley in 1953.

Only younger. And slimmer. And with nicer legs.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: OK, it's cheap and unfair. Guilty. But we
have been waiting eight years for Tim Howard to swear. So here he is, reacting
angrily to CONCACAF's decision to conduct ceremonies at the Gold Cup final (in
Pasadena) in Spanish only: "CONCACAF should be
ashamed of themselves. I think it's a f***ing disgrace that the entire
post-game ceremony was in Spanish. You can bet your ass if we were in Mexico
City, it wouldn't be all in English."

FOREIGN VIEW: Cry me a River.

Argentina's River Plate, one of the world's biggest clubs,
suffered the humiliation of relegation for the first time in their 110-year
history amid violent scenes and the closure of their Monumental stadium.

Rioting 'Barrabrava' hooligans
caused mayhem inside and outside the giant stadium after a 1-1 draw with
Belgrano in the second leg of a relegation play-off condemned the 33-times
Argentine champions to Nacional B division for next season.

The violence from the fans
throwing metal bars and stones left 25 people, including six police officers,
injured, with one badly hurt after being hit by a car.

A major avenue nearby looked
like a war zone with bonfires blazing, shops windows smashed and stores looted.

A city prosecutor ordered the
temporary closure of the stadium - exactly four weeks before it is due to stage
the final of the Copa America - for an investigation into policing and possible
illegal sale of extra tickets.

"We will be looking for
proof that more fans got in than is authorised," prosecutor Gustavo Galante
told America television, adding the limit allowed by the government for the
Monumental is just over 40,000. Observers estimated the crowd at some 60,000.

COMING UP: Women's World Cup -
Japan v New Zealand UK time, and Mexico v England
at 17:00 . Also on the Eurosport Player.
Be there, be watching Wimbledon, or be outside getting sunburn.

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