Hope Powell and keeper make schoolboy errors on Newsround

 

Linkoping

It was the "absolutely, why not?" that did it. Hope Powell's opening gambit when asked, on the children's TV programme Newsround, whether the England women's team could beat the men if they played them has sparked fierce debate and a host of contemptuous comments hurled in the women's coach's direction.

Powell, interviewed by a schoolboy for the BBC show ahead of the women's Euro 2013 tournament in Sweden, where on Friday England lost their first group game 3-2 to Spain, quickly qualified her answer by adding: "Physically the guys are obviously a lot stronger than the women, but if we took it on technical ability we're as good as the men."

The reaction to her comments surprised the coach who has driven the development of the women's game in England since taking charge of the national team in 1998 and who, in reality, does not believe that her team would beat Roy Hodgson's men or indeed any top professional male team.

Powell said: "If anybody out there took those comments seriously then they're stupid. When a young boy who's a bit nervous is interviewing you about football you try to make them feel comfortable, so, 'Can women beat men? Why not?' was a bit of fun, it was said tongue in cheek. Am I serious about it? No I am not. If you're talking about elite athletes the men are too fast, too strong, too powerful for us, but our players are technically gifted and so when a young boy – who incidentally can play mixed football up to the age of 14 or 15 – asks you that question you try to make light of it.

"Would we beat a men's team 11 v 11? I doubt it. But it's not about being competitive against the men, we're just trying to do a good job with women's football and right now we're trying to be competitive in a European Championship. We're competing at the highest level and we want recognition in our own right, not to be compared with the men's game."

Whether the technique of female footballers should be compared to that of their male counterparts is a moot point, but the technical skills of Powell's players were brought into question against Spain. Eleven places lower than England at 18th in the world rankings, the Spaniards out-thought and out-passed England in a game where their victory was deserved even though it came via an own goal by goalkeeper Karen Bardsley four minutes into stoppage time.

Bardsley, outstanding in England's unbeaten qualifying campaign for the finals, allowed the ball to bounce off her arm and then face to drop over the line.

Powell, looking ahead to Monday's second group game, against Russia, asserted that lessons will be learned from the defeat. There's also perhaps a lesson to be learned from her Newsround appearance: as they say, "never work with children or animals".

Suggested Topics
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home