Saturday, December 5, 2020

Joey Barton suggests changes to women’s football

Joey Barton is never far away from controversy. Whenever the mainstream media are showcasing women’s football on a big stage, there is often talk amongst fans about the size of the goals.

It is one conversation that crops up time and again, a conversation which was sparked into life earlier this year by Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes, as she suggested that the difference in average height between men and women leans towards a reduction in the size of goals in women’s football. It is a subject which already has a set precedent, with the women’s Olympic hurdles being nine inches shorter than the men’s, for this very reason.

Joey Barton has now weighed in on the matter with his opinion and interestingly it isn’t as controversial as many would expect. Barton agrees that a reduction in the size of goals would be to the betterment of the sport, however he also discussed the merits of a smaller ball and potentially a smaller pitch, during his appearance on the Football, Feminism & Everything Inbetween podcast.

“It’s a different sport though really, in essence – women’s football should be adjusted for women, physiologically, biologically,”

Joey Barton during his appearance on the Football, Feminism & Everything Inbeteen podcast

Joey Barton loves a bit of controversy – bet on it

Joey Barton
Joey Barton

The Fleetwood Town boss does make some valid arguments. A reduction in goal size is something that, as I mentioned, has been discussed in the past. While some may see this as demeaning the women’s game, saying that they can’t do the same as men, it is simply creating an even playing field. The goalposts in male football were designed to a certain height due to the size of the players that were guarding the goals, this should be the case for the women’s game also.

Barton made an interesting point towards changing the size of the women’s football, as he would say “Let’s be realistic about it. The size of a football for men’s a size five, say we moved the size of a women’s football down to a size four, would anybody really notice the difference?

No, but I guarantee you in terms of the physicality and the output, level of passes and the range of passes players some of the women players would then be able to do because the ball’s a bit smaller and the ball’s more suited to their physiological state.”

This one is something that could be interesting to trial, to see if it did have an impact on how the game was played. Is the difference between a size five football and a size four football enough to institute a shift in the way the women’s game is played? It would be hard to tell without seeing it in action. However if, as Barton suggests, the smaller ball would allow women to increase their passing range and shooting range, it could be nothing but a benefit to the sport.

Reducing pitch size is one that would likely bring a range of complications and currently doesn’t seem to be overly necessary, though if these changes are implemented in the future, it’s something to keep an eye on as a potential topic for discussion.

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