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Women’s football studies: an integrative review

Maurizio Valenti (University of Stirling, Stirling, UK)
Nicolas Scelles (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Stephen Morrow (University of Stirling, Stirling, UK)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 24 July 2018

Issue publication date: 24 October 2018




Women’s football has received increasing attention in the academic literature, partly due to its growing popularity worldwide. However, women’s football research remains scattered across numerous academic domains. Focusing on the social sciences, humanities and management disciplines, the purpose of this paper is to map and organise contributions, and to identify research directions for future studies within these disciplines.


Using the keywords “women”, “girls”, “female” and “football” or “soccer” to initially identify articles, an integrative approach was followed to evaluate and analyse relevant literature. In all, 117 academic journals were classified and subsequently divided into 26 themes according to the subject area, topic and level examined.


Results of this integrative review show an increasing trend of journal publications since 1998, with a large representation of studies related to historical and sociological research, where qualitative methods are dominant. Articles investigating economic, managerial and marketing areas appeared in more recent times. Women’s football has been researched from different perspectives (players, fans, sport organisations) and across various countries.

Research limitations/implications

The restricted scope of this review (i.e. its focus on social sciences) and the manual classification of articles represent two limitations of this study. However, the synthesis of academic literature provided may assist scholars who are interested in women’s football and women’s sports research to fill identified research gaps and contribute to further advance academic investigations in this area.


This paper provides an overview of salient research avenues and represents the first attempt to critically appraise the direction of academic contributions in women’s football for the purpose of advancing scholarly inquiry in this sport.



Valenti, M., Scelles, N. and Morrow, S. (2018), "Women’s football studies: an integrative review", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 8 No. 5, pp. 511-528.



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