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Representation Matters: Race and the History of the England Women's National Football Team

Jean Williams (, UK)

Women’s Football in a Global, Professional Era

ISBN: 978-1-80071-053-5, eISBN: 978-1-80071-052-8

Publication date: 9 March 2023


Analysing the intersectional race and gender politics of the England women's national team, this chapter, based on oral history interviews, shows the historical forces shaping the diversity of the squad over time, from 1972 to the present. Class is important here, as many of the first black and mixed heritage England women players were the daughters of the Windrush generation of Caribbean migrants who settled in working-class areas of urban, and to a lesser extent, rural England. In the case of London-based players, this gave a proximity to important development centres, available by public transport. In the case of Kerry Davis, from Stoke on Trent, access to private transport was important. As head coach, Hope Powell oversaw the first Black-British captain of an England women's side, but when succeeded by Mark Sampson much of this development receded, notably as Eni Aluko, a centurion capped star of Nigerian descent was de-selected for ‘Unlioness behaviour’. In the ensuing legal analysis, the FA showed itself to lack awareness of diversity and inclusion issues in its own sport. The chapter analyses the effect of this, on an England team that includes several high profile LGBTQ+ stars, which is diverse in different ways than the England men's team.



Williams, J. (2023), "Representation Matters: Race and the History of the England Women's National Football Team", Culvin, A. and Bowes, A. (Ed.) Women’s Football in a Global, Professional Era (Emerald Studies in Sport and Gender), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 159-171.



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