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Another YES moment needed

"Women's football so needs a repeat of its 'YES!' moment"

 

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If you look closley you just about make out Brandi Chastain's unbelievable tekkers.....

 

 

 

 

 

In 1999, Brandi Chastain scored the winning penalty for the USA in the Women's World Cup final against China.


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With 90,185 people watching inside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, Chastain ripped off her shirt, revealing her sports bra, and slid to the ground with fists clenched, eyes closed and screaming with pure, unbridled joy.


This positive, powerful image of athleticism, of the outpouring of emotion that only sport can induce, was beamed around the world. It made the cover of Sports Illustrated with the simple, emphatic  headline: ‘Yes!'


It seemed to show anything was possible. But, nearly 13 years on, how women's football could do with another Chastain moment.


Last Saturday was the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the law that prohibits discrimination against women in the States, but the country's Women's Professional Soccer League was suspended in January and then folded in May.


The players were told of their impending unemployment by email, with confirmation coming four months later via Facebook. Over here, we saw the first meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on women's sport and fitness and England's women beat Holland 1-0 and Slovenia 4-0 to move within one match of qualifying for Euro 2013.


But as a phone-in on BBC Radio 5 Live asked: ‘Will the  women's game ever catch up with the men's?', the resounding answer was ‘No!'


There is, however, another potential Chastain moment for women's football coming up in 30 days' time, when Great Britain v New Zealand kicks off at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. It is the first event of the London 2012 Olympic Games and a massive opportunity for women's football, a sport which values the Olympics just as much as a World Cup.


This isn't an Under 23 tournament with a few big names thrown in; it's the very pinnacle of the game, which is just what the Olympics should be about.


The only problem is there could be only around 20,000 people inside the stadium to watch it.


At times, women's football seems incapable of helping itself.



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Hope Powell announces her Team GB Olympic squad on Tuesday at a press conference conveniently scheduled during one of the busiest weeks of the summer, when it will have to compete with Euro 2012 and Wimbledon for exposure.


The same old arguments will be trotted out: women's football ‘deserves' more coverage and it is the third largest sport in terms of participation. Don't you dare compare us to the men's game in terms of attendance, salaries, speed or skill but, yes, we do want the same level of media attention, thank you very much. It just doesn't add up.


What women's football still doesn't seem to grasp is it needs genuine success to propel it to the next level. Is that fair? Probably not. But whingeing about disparity doesn't seem to have got the game very far.


Around 20 million Japanese viewers watched world champions Japan take on the USA last week. As Chastain showed, winning matters.


Average gates of 528 people watching an FA Women's Super League match on a poor pitch aren't going to change the world, but success for Powell's squad in an Olympics on home soil? That could be a real  ‘Yes!' moment.