To honour International Women’s Day, Lewes FC and Lyle & Scott released a film fronted by former Lioness, Claire Rafferty, looking at the 100-year anniversary of The FA’s 50-year ban on women’s football and its long lasting impact.

The women’s game continues to strive for the equality it deserves, free from discrimination and hate. Commissioned to coincide with International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – Lewes FC, the only semi-professional or professional club in the world to pay it’s men’s and women’s teams equally, released a film reflecting on The FA’s decision to ban women’s football 100 years ago. The film explores the long-term impact the 50-year ban had on the women’s game in England. 

Fronted by former England International and WSL player and Lewes FC Director, Claire Rafferty, the provocative vignette charts the rise of women’s football in the early 20th century, when it grew almost as quickly as the men's game, reaching new heights in the period immediately after the First World War. 

Speaking on her role in the film, Claire Rafferty said: “It’s been a thought-provoking experience to dig deeper into the history of women’s football in England. I think a huge majority of football fans have no idea that this ban was ever in place, why it was introduced or that it lasted so long. It’s almost impossible to calculate the true cost of the damage it did to the development of the women’s game but, there’s no doubt, the gap in resources, revenues and opportunities would be far more equal if it had never been in place. 

Rafferty continues: “When I was growing up I experienced first-hand the lack of opportunity and access to facilities compared to my male counterparts. That’s why I’m thrilled to present this film and be a part of the Lewes FC collective, to show that there is a progressive model, with equality and community at its heart, that football fans can get behind.

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The 50-year ban held back on-pitch progress but also stoked still-present discrimination against women involved in all aspects of football, whether as players, pundits, referees or coaches. Together with Lyle & Scott we wanted to share this story with a wider audience and encourage more clubs to put equality at the heart of their operations,” said Maggie Murphy, General Manager at Lewes FC, who commissioned the film. 

She continued: “This year’s International Women’s Day slogan – “Choose to Challenge” is at the heart of what we as a club set out to do. The good news for girls and women everywhere is that positive change is happening and we are proud of our role in that. Equality and inclusion is the future of football and we hope that other clubs around the world will take inspiration from the example we are setting. 

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Lyle & Scott and Lewes FC will be creating a thread of films that explore themes of equality, diversity and community in the near future.