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Frankly... visual
In the Name of Football: Aaargh!

Despite initial efforts to promote women’s football, it has yet to really take off. And before you know it, many a newly formed women’s team seems to vanish into thin air. And yet, the magic of pictures can bring back the Qatar national women’s team – at least in this column.

By Susi Bumms

Half a dozen brand new stadiums built in the name of Football. Having people worked to death in the name of Football. €214 million shelled out for broadcasting rights in the name of Football... Aargh!

I’ve noticed that whenever I write or hear the word “football”, I almost invariably think of men. I mean men’s football and not just plain “football”.

Why is that? Because when it comes to football, almost everything is different whenever the people kicking or holding the ball on the pitch, watching, cheering or booing the match, advertising with football or inveighing against it, are not cisgender men. It’s still the same game of 11 vs 11 on a 105m x 68m field. But when you take men out of the equation, it’s a whole different ball game.

FIFA don’t want football to be automatically associated with men’s football, but with the sport itself, so they say.

Which is why the International Federation of Association Football in 2008 stipulated that member associations have to spend at least 15% of the funding they receive from FIFA’s Financial Assistance Programme (FAP) on women’s football. That allotment came to $37,500 per association in 2009.

The Qatari football association was well aware of this rule. So, in 2009, as various countries were putting in their bids to host the FIFA World Cup 2022 in men’s football, Qatar created an official women’s national team… with an annual budget of exactly $37,500.

The team took part in the Arab Women’s Cup and in friendly matches against Bahrain and Jordan’s national teams. In 2013, Monika Staab, their coach at the time, even took the team to Germany for some friendlies here. But they haven’t taken part in a single tournament since 2014 and are no longer even listed in FIFA’s World Ranking of women’s teams. According to Staab, the team doesn’t exist anymore. Though Qatari women who play and love football still exist, needless to say.

Everybody’s talking about football these days – i.e. men’s football. Aaargh!

But the magic of pictures can bring back things that aren’t around anymore – like the Qatar women’s national football team:

Illustration: Three football players in front of the goal, one heads the ball towards the goal Header | Illustration: © Susi Bumms
Illustration: Three football players cheer Joy over scoring a goal | Illustration: © Susi Bumms Illustration: Many hands hold up a trophy, confetti in the background Cup won | Illustration: © Susi Bumms


On an alternating basis each week, our “Frankly ...” column series is written by Susi Bumms, Maximilian Buddenbohm, and Sineb El Masrar and Marie Leão. In the “Frankly…visual” column, Susi Bumms observes pop culture and politics, commenting on what she sees through cartoons and pictures..