World Cup-winning United States midfielder Megan Rapinoe has denounced the lack of investment in women’s football around the world, saying it is “disgraceful” that a club like Manchester United had taken so long to revive their team.
United faced criticism for not forming a team after their women’s side was scrapped in 2005 and were granted a licence to play in the second-tier Championship in 2018.
The team immediately earned promotion to the Women’s Super League (WSL) and finished 4th in their maiden top-flight campaign. They lead the table after six games this season following Sunday’s 1-0 win over Arsenal.
“Women’s football in England is the same as in America. It’s so far behind because of what we’ve had to overcome in the lack of investment,” Rapinoe told the BBC.
“It’s 2020. How long has the Premier League been around? And we’re only just seeing a club like Manchester United put effort and pounds towards a women’s team? Frankly, it’s disgraceful.”
Several US women’s international players have joined the WSL this season with Tobin Heath and Christen Press signing for United, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis moving to Manchester City and Alex Morgan sealing a loan switch to Tottenham Hotspur.
For Rapinoe though, who was voted FIFA’s Best women’s player in 2019, there’s a different target in mind.
“I’ve had a few teammates go abroad and play, while I’m training and trying to keep fit in the hopes that eventually we’ll be out of this hellscape [Covid-19 pandemic].
“I want to keep playing. I’m definitely not anywhere near retirement; I absolutely want to play at the Olympics.”
Going back to the WSL, it is clear that the profile of the league has raised significantly following a summer of major transfers, with international stars like Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr and Vivianne Miedema (as well as all the US stars) in the WSL, which is finally starting to see increased exposure around the world after entering into its 10th year.
The WSL is undoubtedly a solid platform for the women’s game to grow on a larger scale, but the lack of funding provided to clubs in England is something that as Rapinoe said “it’s disgraceful”. It’s time to listen, because if a change is not made, the women’s game will never have a path to go forward.