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Turf debate continues

Turf debate continues

Emphasising the importance of a continued conversation around gender equality in football to keep the progress going, the Gender Hub team has created an inclusive platform - Women World Football - for exactly this purpose. Member of the Gender Hub team Marisa Schlenker shares her passion for the field.

In September 2015, as I was finishing my master's in Sport for Conflict Resolution and Social Development at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), I was stuck, unable to decide what research question to pursue for my grand final task. As an avid football player, fan and researcher of the game, I knew that as the Women‘s World Cup was approaching, I would be very distracted by the action- filled games, the stories of the players and teams, and the overall essence of the international competition.

Before the games began, I noticed that in addition to the normal media coverage on the top players and teams to watch, there were many hints of another type of conversation taking place, amongst players on their social media platforms, journalists and fans of the game. This conversation I refer to was what was commonly referred to as the ‘turf debate’ and I was intrigued by this discourse, following it diligently throughout the games in Canada and afterwards, when it led to discussions on FIFA prize money, pay inequalities, and unequal treatment in various spaces within football. 

As the 2019 tournament is now underway, we see that the ‘turf debate’ never ended, in fact hints of the same issues have surfaced and will continue to resurface. To me, as much as this is a clear sign that there hasn’t been much improvement in the women’s game, it is also what the players and activists wanted – that the conversation continues. We hope to do this and contribute to this conversation with this blog.

  • Women World Football is a website created by the Gender Hub team to be an inclusive space to collect and share thoughts and reflections around the 2019 Women’s Football World Cup 
  • About the Author: Marisa Schlenker is an on field sport trainer with experience delivering sport for development programmes. She is a researcher, member of the Gender Hub team and develops manuals, toolkits and curricula for sport for development organisations. She loves to play football and has manged to secure tickets to see some games at the World Cup.


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Marisa Schlenker


Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 10:55