Heroes from ‘Forgotten World Cup’ set to deliver talk at University of Sheffield
- Three footballers from the England women’s team that played in a groundbreaking World Cup set to deliver talk at University of Sheffield
- Leah Caleb, Gill Sayell and Chris Lockwood were part of the England team from Mexico ’71 – a tournament that was not sanctioned by FIFA
- Despite being banned by the Football Association, England’s women’s team ventured to Mexico and played in a tournament that captured the hearts of fans around the world
- Players set to share their experience of the tournament and reflections on the state of women’s football as part of a free public talk at the University
Three pioneering players who were part of an inspirational team that put women’s football on the international stage for the first time are set to deliver a talk at the University of Sheffield.
Leah Caleb, Gill Sayell and Chris Lockwood were members of the England team that played at the 1971 World Cup in Mexico – a tournament that has been deemed an ‘unofficial’ World Cup because it was not sanctioned by FIFA, who only supported a Women’s World Cup 20 years later.
Women from England were not supported by the Football Association (FA) to play or take part in the competition.
Despite the football authorities banning them from playing, the England women’s team ventured to Mexico and played in the tournament that captured the hearts and imagination of fans and TV broadcasters around the world.
The unofficial World Cup rivalled the men’s World Cup that had been held in the country just months before. It attracted huge crowds as more than 110,000 people attended the Mexico v Denmark final (still the largest ever crowd at a women’s football match) and 80,000 fans watched the England team play Mexico.
Following the success of Mexico ’71, England’s FA lifted its 50-year ban on women’s football later that year.
Now, the three ex-England players will share their experiences and reflections of how the game has changed at a public talk at the University of Sheffield.
Professor David Wood from the University’s School of Languages and Cultures is exploring the rise of women’s football in Latin America and how the sport is empowering women in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia to fight gender inequality. Professor Wood has organised the talk in collaboration with Professor Jean Williams, Academic in Residence at the National Football Museum.
Professor Wood said: “We are privileged to have these three ex-England stars coming to Sheffield to share their experiences with us. Everyone can conjure images of the Mexico 1970 World Cup – that save by Gordon Banks, Brazil winning the tournament for the third time in style – but the 1971 Women’s World Cup was arguably more important.
“At that time, women’s football had very little institutional support anywhere, including in England, and was still banned by law in Brazil. The huge crowds at matches in Mexico raised the international profile of the women’s game and confounded many of the prejudices that had plagued it for decades, in Europe and Latin America alike.”
He added: “The women who played there were trailblazers for today’s England team as they prepare for the World Cup in France this summer amid media coverage and public interest that was unimaginable then.”
The event, The Forgotten World Cup: The England Women’s Team and Mexico 1971, is being held in the University of Sheffield’s Diamond building on Thursday 2 May 2019 from 6pm to 7.30pm. The event is free and open to the public.
The University of Sheffield
With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.
A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.
Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.
Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
For further information please contact:
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852