When England takes to the field of play on Sunday in the final of the Women’s World Cup, the team will not have the same appearance as the one that was proclaimed champions of Europe last July. The difference? There will be no white shorts.
They are not the only ones. Although some teams, such as Zambia and the Philippines, continued to wear light-coloured shorts at this year’s tournament, many joined England in adopting alternative colours. The number of nations whose kits wear white shorts decreased compared to the 2019 tournament, despite the fact that the number of participants was expanded from 24 to 32. It should be noted that most of the teams that opted for white last time, changed color by 2023, including Canada, France, Nigeria and South Korea.
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The measure is part of a growing trend, not limited to soccer, aimed at combating anxiety caused by menstruation among athletes.
It comes after the Ireland women’s rugby team switched from white shorts to navy blue earlier this year and Wimbledon organizers relaxed their rules, allowing female competitors to wear dark-coloured shorts under their sleeves for the first time. all white clothing. After England unveiled their new World Cup kits, forward Lauren Hemp told reporters that the decision to switch from white shorts to blue was “a huge step in the right direction.”
“Now we can feel comfortable when we might not have been if it was our period,” she added. “It’s great to get away from the white shorts, not have that worry and just focus on the game.” Hemp plays in the English Women’s Super League with Manchester City, who in 2022 changed their kit to exclude white shorts in favor of burgundy, following feedback from players. (Manchester City men continue to wear the team’s traditional blue and white.)
women’s world cup shorts
New Zealander Hannah Wilkinson described the absence of white shorts as “fantastic for women with any kind of period anxiety.” Credit: Qin Lang/Xinhua/Getty Images
The decision to eliminate white shorts for women is driven by the growing popularity of certain sports, according to Nicole Melton, an associate professor of sports management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. With more than one million tickets sold, this year’s World Cup is the most attended independent women’s sporting event in history, according to FIFA.
“The worldwide attention that women’s soccer has received in the last 25 years, not only in the United States, but also in Europe and South America, means that there is more attention and more interest in it,” she said in a telephone interview. It’s given those women a broader platform to talk about these issues.”
Allison Smith, assistant professor of Sports Leadership and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said in a phone interview that getting rid of the white shorts “is a very small thing that shows what a big impact women’s sports is starting to have.”
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“The players feel they have a voice to really challenge the traditional norms that have always been in place for their particular sport, whether it’s uniforms, practices or whatever,” Smith added. “The players have the confidence to speak up and say : ‘Hey, these are no longer acceptable practices for us; we’re not going to wear these particular uniforms or accept this particular pay and these crumbs that we’ve been given historically.'”
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Hemp is by no means the only athlete who has expressed her support for not wearing white shorts at this year’s World Cup. New Zealand’s Hannah Wilkinson, whose team opted for black and teal shorts in this year’s competition, said in a statement that “the absence of white shorts is now fantastic for women with any form of period anxiety.”
“It’s always been something that women athletes, not just soccer players, have had to deal with,” she added. “In the end it just helps us focus more on performance and shows recognition and appreciation for women’s health.”
Traditionally, sports kit manufacturers have been inspired by men’s kits to make women’s kits, as most of the big clubs created their women’s kits long after their men’s counterparts. Melton noted that the historical prevalence of white shorts in women’s sports suggests that they have hardly been considered.