Beth Mead has responded to men belittling women’s football by sending out a reminder of the genders’ contrasting England success. The Arsenal forward fired the Lionesses to European Championship glory in the summer, a year after the country’s male players suffered final heartbreak.
Mead, 27, registered six goals and five assists in six games as England lifted their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup, winning the Golden Boot and Player of the Tournament award. The nation rejoiced as Sarina Wiegman’s side ended 56 years of hurt at Wembley Stadium, but that hasn’t stopped criticism of the women’s game.
Some male football fans, used to consuming the world’s most competitive competition in the Premier League, often dismiss the quality of female footballers. But Mead has hit back, aiming a couple of cheeky digs on the back of the Lionesses’ Euro 2022 glory.
She told The Times: “They’re playing a different game. We hear [men belittling the women’s game] all the time. We play the exact same game, technically. We get stuck in and don’t roll around on the ground after a tackle acting like we’re hurt when we’re not.
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“We can’t compete with men because we’re not as strong or as fast but what we’ve done is what the men couldn’t do, or not since 1966: we’ve won. People’s opinions don’t matter to us. We’ve been there and done it.”
Mead was also asked what England’s women boasted throughout their Euro 2022 campaign that Gareth Southgate and his predecessors have missed in their failed attempts to lift silverware. And she hailed her teammates’ belief and mindset on the road to inspiring a generation of female footballers.
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“It’s a hard one. We still haven’t worked it out,” Mead explained. “I’m not saying the men didn’t have a belief, but we had a belief in every single moment of that tournament that we could do something special. We went behind against Spain and came back. We never at any point thought we were going home.”
The Lionesses have maintained their momentum since lifting the European Championship, beating world champions USA in October, and will be confident of adding a World Cup of their own to the collection in 2023. Mead will undoubtedly play a significant role once she has overcome the ACL she is currently nursing.
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