On the occasion of the start of the European Championship, on July 6 in England, we offer you a series of articles devoted to women’s football. This Friday, the last part is devoted to goalkeepers, often mocked for their dumplings. They are however in very clear progress.
Watch the first episode: “We have everything to succeed”, assures Clara Matéo, the Swiss army knife of the France team
The second : Why are there so few coaches in women’s football?
The third : Three years after the World Cup in France, where is French women’s football?
And the fourth: The difficult fight for equal pay between players
The dumpling. Always ridiculous, sometimes dishonorable. To offer an easy goal to the adversary, to fail in its mission of last bastion is an affront liable to digital crucifixion. But the consequences, depending on whether you are a guardian or a guardian, are not quite the same. In the first case, the blunder engages only its author, described as goat, tench, pipe, in short, anything you want, by half of Twitter. In women’s football, it’s different. Textbook case with Barabara Votikova, author of several gross errors, at the end of April, during the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against OL. On the networks, under the video which quickly went viral, taunts against the PSG goalkeeper accompanied by sexist remarks and an inevitable questioning of the level of all the goalkeepers. It’s like that every time.
To make matters worse, where the men can find glory with three, four or five decisive saves in an important match, the goalkeepers are only entitled to the spotlight to be singled out. Shame. Lovers of spectacular rescues on the line would have benefited from seeing the masterclass of Christiane Endler, the Lyon goalkeeper, during this same double confrontation in C1.
It is an understatement to say that the clichés about women’s football die hard. Something to make sigh Corentin Esclandre, coach of the goalkeepers of Saint-Malo (D2 female). The latter responds to lovers of easy criticism, when they are not obsolete.
“There are people who have a very negative image of women who play football, and judge women’s football as it was 10 years ago, without any questioning. But this is not true. We are in 2022, women’s football has progressed well, to these people I say: watch a football match. »
However, let us not fall into the opposite extreme. It would be equally dishonest to say that all is well and that there are as many Endlers as there are Neuers. But we also have the right to highlight progress in this area. “The position of goalkeeper has long been behind in the development of the position itself, due to a lack of training, a lack of specialization and follow-up, analyzes Jessica Silva, coach of FC Metz. This is something that will continually be a line of work in the coming years, to continue this evolution. But there are more and more better goalkeepers. »
Progress could be faster if the greatest evil of women’s football, namely its still too scattered professionalization, were eradicated. Esclandre: “the girls work in parallel. So you work on the fatigue, you can’t really go and draw the end as you want. We try to make sure not to burn them because they have their lives on the side. »
In addition to the differences linked to the pace of work, the argument of the physical also deserves to be taken into account in the way of judging the goalkeepers (and the players, in general). Starting with the height: during the opening match of Euro 2022, neither the English number 1 nor her Austrian opponent reached meter 80 (1m73 for Earps against 1m77 for Zinsberger). We are quite far from Gigio Donnarumma’s 96 meter and Jordan Pickford’s 85 meter in the 2021 Men’s Euro final.
A difference in height (and therefore in size) which had led Chelsea coach Emma Hayes to wonder about the size of the cages, in a famous intervention dated 2019. “Their cage is simply a little too big. If they had been built taking into account our physical differences, we would speak of the guardians as being great guardians rather than criticizing them. »
We ask them for the moon
Comparatively and proportionally, the goals kept by women are greater than those kept by men. In 2019, a trio of researchers from the University of Trondheim (Norway) compared the efforts made by women and men according to the anthropometric and physiological differences between the two sexes. The conclusion is as follows
- Women’s matches “last” 113 minutes
- Cages are 7.93m long by 2.64m high (currently 7.32m x 2.44m)
“Women jump less high, jump less far, they are not the same muscle fibers, not the same body morphologies, so inevitably, we cannot ask a girl to jump as high as a boy, supports Corentin Esclandre . It is not possible. »
This double size-relaxation deficit also puts the goalkeepers at risk on aerial interventions in the area, which are the source of many errors, even if these are tending to decrease. The one who is also goalkeeper of the N2 of Saint-Malo continues. “There are still a lot fewer basic errors on ball grips, controls, etc. Today, it is technically very clean on what is basic. The evolution has been real in this position. The look on the goalkeepers will inevitably end up changing. The meatballs will always exist.