Welcome to this week’s column. You will be glad to know I did indeed get to swim in the sea last week! (briefly) and I lived to tell the tale, so here I am. It’s been a mixed week for women’s sport (and women in, whisper it, men’s football) yet again – certainly two steps forward, one step back. Heartily sick of it now – let’s stick it in “and finally” and see what happens.
Anyway more interesting and sensible stories this week come from football, cricket, netball, cycling, tennis, rugby union, athletics and rugby league.
Wimbledon is nearly here! Qualifying is well underway as is the run-up Eastbourne
Agnieszka Radwanska v Aryna Sabalenka
Caroline Wozniaki (1) v Angelique Kerber (4)
Eugenie Bouchard is one of those who has come through qualifying to reach the main draw at Wimbledon, the tournament proper beginning on Monday 2 July.
Serena Williams has been named as 25th seed. This has caused some comment, both for and against, from current players and others in the sport. I think it’s a tricky one and I can see both sides. Should a tennis player’s seeding be protected while on maternity leave? There is already the protected ranking rule for those out of the game due to injury from six months to two years. You would think the ITF would have inserted something into their maternity policy to cover it, but of course, it’s a relatively new thing that women should want to return to elite competition after giving birth (!) Come on ITF sort it out.
The Women’s World Twenty20 groups were announced this week.
Group A: England, West Indies, Sri Lanka, South Africa + 1 qualifier
Group B: Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan + 1 qualifier
Venues are Guyana, St Lucia and Antigua and the tournament takes place from 9-24 November.
Saturday 10 v Sri Lanka
Monday 12 v Qualifer
Friday 16 v South Africa
Sunday 18 v West Indies
Radio coverage on Test Match Special, TV broadcast news to follow.
The remaining qualifiers will come from the tournament in the Netherlands, being held 7-14 July. The eight teams competing for two places are: Bangladesh, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Thailand and United Arab Emirates.
The final of the England – South Africa – New Zealand Tri-Series will be between England and New Zealand.
England finished top of the table with three wins from four games, New Zealand second with two wins and two losses and South Africa third with just the one win, against England last weekend.
The last double-header was on Thursday 28 June:
South Africa 148/6 (20 overs)
New Zealand 151/2 (15.2 overs)
New Zealand won by 8 wickets with 28 balls remaining
South Africa won the toss and elected to bat. They made a good start with a 40-run partnership between the openers, Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt. Lee was the first to go for 25. Sune Luus went for a duck soon after and although there were good contributions from Wolvaardt (25), Dane van Niekerk (25) and particularly Chloe Tryon (35), they still finished possibly 20 runs light.
New Zealand made a strong response. They had reached 130 before Bates was caught by Lee off the bowling of Marizanne Kapp for 62. Katey Martin was bowled by Zintle Mali for 10, but Sophie Devine finished 68 not out as the White Ferns won with more than four overs to spare, sealing their place in the final.
New Zealand 129 all out (18.1 overs)
England 130/3 (15.5 overs)
England won by 7 wickets with 25 balls remaining
In the final game, a dead rubber, England won with four overs to spare. The key was the bowling performance, and in particular, the dismissal of Suzie Bates for a duck. Sophie Devine took on the anchor role, making 52 off 45 balls, but apart from 37 from Amy Satterthwaite, there was little in the way of support for the opener. Anya Shrubsole took 3/16 from 3.1 overs, while Dani Hazell took 2/21 off her four.
In response the England openers fell cheaply (Wyatt, 2 and Beaumont 11), but Sarah Taylor made 51 from 37 before she was stumped (!) off the bowling of Amelia Kerr. Nat Sciver and Heather Knight took it on and New Zealand could not take another wicket. Sciver finished on 39 and Knight on 24.
The final is this Sunday, 1 July at Chelmsford and the match begins at 3pm.
The British Athletics Championships take place this weekend (30 June-1 July) at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.
As well as the titles on offer, athletes will be looking to qualify for the European Championships, which are in Berlin from 7-12 August.
Scotland’s Eilidh Doyle will not be there to defend her 400m hurdles title as she is still nursing an injury and aiming to be fit for Berlin.
Coverage is via the BBC on TV, online and the Red Button. See here for details: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/athletics/43572549
The row over the new Court of Arbitration for Sport’s testosterone rules rumbles on.
Unsurprisingly, South African 800m champion Caster Semenya had vowed to fight the new ruling, calling it “unlawful”.
But it seems that amongst the governing bodies of the sport she will have little or no support. Both the IAAF and Athletics South Africa have now said they will honour any ruling made by CAS when it comes in on 1 November.
As we know, the rule only applies to women who run in track events from 400m up to a mile and although Lord Sebastian Coe, IAAF president, in a statement on Wednesday said,
“No individual athlete has been targeted in the creation of the regulations”
It’s hard not to see that Semenya is indeed the target.
The statement said that the IAAF needs
“to create competition categories within our sport that ensures that success is determined by talent, dedication and hard work, rather than by other factors that are not considered fair or meaningful, such as the enormous physical advantages that an adult has over a child, or a male athlete has over a female athlete.
“We therefore need to come up with a fair solution for intersex/DSD athletes wishing to compete in the female category which is what the new regulations set out to do, based on the evidence the IAAF has gathered about the degree of performance benefit that such intersex/DSD athletes get from their higher levels of circulating testosterone.”
Is the new ruling this “fair solution”? I’m certainly not sure and from Semenya’s point of view, no aspect of it is fair. Expect no resolution by the due November 1 introduction date.
Biggest and most disturbing news of the week comes from the new FA Women’s Championship. Sheffield FC has withdrawn from the new league due to financial issues.
The club issued a short statement:
“Following a meeting of the directors, the Club has taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from The FA Women’s Championship. The financial commitments necessary to compete at this level are proving now too onerous.
“Sheffield FC has been a pioneer of women’s football in Sheffield over the past 15 years, and has competed with honour, pride and considerable success against clubs with much greater resources. Sheffield FC will continue to participate in girls’ and women’s football.
“The structure of the women’s game at elite level is moving towards a full-time operation which is no longer consistent with where Sheffield FC is positioned as a club.”
Sheffield FC Ladies was founded in 2003. It was promoted to WSL2 in 2015. I don’t know where to start. Is it time for me to wheel out the oldest and most-used phrase of all, “What are you playing at FA?” Wasn’t all this application process supposed to stop all of this – weren’t all the checks supposed to ensure that those awarded licences were able to fulfil the criteria? And yet, here we have a well-established club forced to withdraw without a ball being kicked. Who will replace them? There were no shortage of applicants – should be Blackburn, Sunderland or Oxford I think. But I’m sure I’m not alone in picturing this new structure as resembling a house of cards – and we all know what happens to those.
Former Bristol City manager, Willie Kirk, has been named as assistant coach to Casey Stoney at Manchester United.
In an interview with the club’s website, Kirk said,
“To have the chance to work with Casey Stoney and to be part of a team that is being set up from scratch, to me, is an opportunity not to be missed.
“Manchester United is renowned around the globe for developing young talent and that will continue in the women’s team.
“I would like to thank Casey for giving me this opportunity and I know that our skills and experience will complement each other as we work together to develop an exciting new team.”
- Chelsea have signed New Zealand captain Ali Riley.
- Liverpool have signed Millwall Lionesses defender Leighanne Robe.
- West Ham have been busy, largely signing players from champions Chelsea! Matt Beard obviously means business (you would expect nothing else), signing England centre-back Gilly Flaherty, left-back Claire Rafferty and goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer.
- Birmingham City striker Lucy Quinn has signed a new one-year contract.
- Reading have also offered midflelder Jo Potter a contract extension, the length of which has not been revealed and Jade Moore has also signed a new contract.
- Manchester City have signed Belgian striker Tessa Wullaert from Wolfsburg on a two-year deal.
The Women’s European Grand Prix Series starts today (Friday 29 June) in Marcoussis. All of the home nations are taking part. For more news and live video feed click below:
Two results from the Super League this week:
Featherstone Rovers 20-31 Wigan Warriors
Leeds Rhinos 30-10 Bradford Bulls
All teams have now played either six or seven matches. Leeds top the table with 12 points from seven games. Wigan are second a point behind from seven and St Helens are third with nine points, but have a game in hand over the top two.
York City Knights are the only team not to have scored a point so far, having played six games.
German Double Olympic champion Kristina Vogel crashed in training on Tuesday and is in hospital in Berlin.
She is described as having suffered a “serious spinal injury”, when she crashed into another rider at full speed at the Cottbus track.
She has had surgery and is in a stable condition, although she remains in intensive care.
Updates as they come through.
Somehow we have already reached the business end of the Super League season already. The regular season finished with Wasps on top with 48 points from their 18 games. Loughborough Lightning finished second with 45 and these two teams have secured home semi-finals. Lightning face Manchester Thunder, who finished third, while Wasps play fourth-finishers Team Bath.
The semi-finals are this Saturday, 30 June and will both be shown live on Sky Sports:
Wasps v Bath (5.45pm)
Lightning v Thunder (7.45pm)
The Grand Final will be on Saturday 7 July at the Copper Box Arena in London and again will be shown live on Sky Sports.
It will not have escaped your notice (and I’m not saying that it should) that the men’s football World Cup (as I like to call it) is taking place in Russia at the moment. For the most part, except for the massive amounts of feigning injury, rolling around, wrestling players to the ground, surrounding the referee etc., it has been enjoyable so far.
But, it seems, women are not destined to enjoy the World Cup. How very dare they? How dare they commentate? Summarise or offer opinion? Or even be part of the crowd?
1) Jason Cundy (former Chelsea, and to my shame, Ipswich player and Talksport “pundit”), who hopefully is regretting ever opening his mouth, said in an interview that women shouldn’t commentate because their voices are “too high-pitched”. Good Morning Britain then ran a poll “should women commentate?” (on men’s football – the only thing that counts). Cue meat-heads far and wide to weigh-in with their “opinion” (and the word “whiny” appeared several times). You’ll all know where I stand on this. But let me just sum it up in one sentence; if you say you don’t like X’s voice or Y’s voice when commentating, this is ok. Everyone has this kind of preference and there is nothing wrong with that. If, however, you say you don’t like “women’s” voices, it is discrimination and nothing else. You are discounting 50% of the population without any basis.
2) Secondly, Eni Aluko and Alex Scott have been employed as “pundits”, and boy have they received flak, particularly Aluko. Scott is much more experienced in this and has been praised as well as insulted, but Aluko is still learning, but has been given no credit for this. One of the more astounding comments I’ve seen (more than once) is that when anyone mentioned their 242 England caps between them as proof of knowledge and experience, the commenter said “242 women’s caps = 1 men’s cap”? Really? Is this the case? I don’t think so?
3) Getty Images released a rather ill-judged gallery of the World Cups “Sexiest fans” this week. Men and women? Just men? Nope, just women. For crying out loud, Getty, what century are we in again? They have since shamefacedly withdrawn the piece.
Here’s a novel idea, how about women being allowed to watch, comment on, write about, speak about and likewise give an opinion on the World Cup without the misogynist bile and objectification?
More news and views next week.