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Integration between Women’s and Men’s Football Clubs: A Comparison between Brazil, China and Italy

Valenti, Maurizio and Peng, Qi and Rocha, Claudio (2021) Integration between Women’s and Men’s Football Clubs: A Comparison between Brazil, China and Italy. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics. ISSN 1940-6940

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Abstract

Despite an increasing interest from media and fans, one of the challenges women’s football currently faces is the lack of resources to sustain its growth at both grassroots and elite levels. To cope with this issue, National Associations (NAs) of various countries have recently formulated a policy demanding men’s football clubs to integrate a women’s team within their structure. Using the Multiple Streams Framework (Kingdon, 1984), this article examines the context, timing and conditions leading to the implementation of the policy of integration in three different countries: Brazil, China and Italy. The authors collected and analysed policy documents and media reports to identify factors influencing the policy formulation. Results indicate declining performances of senior women’s national team, low participation rates, external pressures from supranational football institutions and increased societal need to reduce gender disparities contribute to influence NAs’ engagement with policies for the development of women’s football. While potentially helping women’s football enhance its visibility and commercialisation, the policy of integration risks the women’s game continuing to be seen as subaltern to its men’s counterpart. Implications of the policy of integration for the long-term development of women’s football and its possible future scenarios are discussed.

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