Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes says debate about reducing the size of the goals in women’s soccer should be welcomed.
As it stand the dimensions for the goal frame and pitch are the same as in the men’s game, despite a substantial difference in average heights between the sexes.
In the UK, she writes, the average height for women is 5ft 3in, while it’s 5ft 9in for men.
"We frequently hear the criticism, even from advocates of women’s football, that the standard between the posts lets it down," Hayes wrote in the Times.
"But is this anything to do with the quality of goalkeeping or the basic science of size and space?
"In the Olympics...the women’s hurdles were made to be nine inches shorter, 33in compared with 42.
"In women’s basketball, women use a smaller ball.
"Far too quickly the response to any discussion like this is defensive.
"In women’s basketball, women use a smaller ball"
"The debate is closed down out of a misplaced fear that it will damage women’s football. When I first aired the idea, I was accused of undermining equality and trying to take the game backward.
"Let’s try to set emotion aside and consider some facts, such as the average height of a goalkeeper in men’s football being at least 6ft 1in — latest figures put it as high as 6ft 3in in the Premier League — with goalkeepers in the Women’s Super League (WSL) about 5ft 8in.
"That is a significant disparity, particularly when the dimensions of a full-size outdoor goal are 8ft high and 24ft wide.
"Constructive debate should be encouraged.
"I don’t want to see men called sexist for daring to discuss how the women’s game is different.
"The facts are that, in all sorts of little ways, it is. We should be able to discuss why that might be good and bad."