Big brother’s little sister: the ideological construction of women’s super league

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This article explores the structure and culture of the Football Association (FA) in relation to the development of England’s first semiprofessional female soccer league—Women’s Super League (WSL). Through observations and interviews, we examined the planning and operationalization of WSL. Drawing on critical feminist literature and theories of organizational change, we demonstrate the FA’s shift from tolerance of the women’s game, through opposition, to defining and controlling elite female club football as a new product shaped by traditional conceptualizations of gender. The labyrinthine structures of the FA abetted the exclusion of pre-WSL stakeholders, allowing the FA to fashion a League imagined as both qualitatively different to elite men’s football in terms of style of play, appealing to a different fan base, yet inextricably bound to men’s clubs for support. It concludes by providing recommendations for how organizational change might offer correctives to the FA approach to developing WSL.




Woodhouse, D., Fielding-Lloyd, B., & Sequerra, R. (2019). Big brother’s little sister: the ideological construction of women’s super league. Sport in Society, 22(12), 2006–2023.

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