Fabio Capello ‘disrespectful’ to call for smaller goals for women, says Chelsea’s Beth England

Marcus Parekh
Beth England in action for Chelsea against Birmingham City earlier this month - GETTY IMAGES

Beth England has dismissed Fabio Capello’s call for goals and pitches to be made smaller in the women’s game as “a load of rubbish”.

The 25-year-old Chelsea striker, who is the second highest scorer in the WSL, said: “The level of the keepers in this league is high, some of them have pulled off phenomenal saves. I think it’s disrespectful to them and what they can reach and their talents.

“Obviously we outfield players want to get better just as goalkeepers do. So if they can reach that extra yard or make that top-corner save, then I think they should stay as they are. I don’t think they should be made smaller for any reason.

“It would make us less than them [men] and we’ve been trying so hard to fight to be as equal as we can, so lessening the goal makes us even more inferior to them. It’s a load of rubbish.”

The former manager of the England men’s team came under fire this week for comments he made at the Laureus Sports Awards on Monday evening, when he said he thought “the goal is too big for women and the pitch is too wide.”

He was rebuked, on the night, by Jill Ellis, the World Cup-winning former coach of the United States, and his comments have attracted widespread criticism across the women’s game.

Scotland international Erin Cuthbert echoed England’s comments, saying: “Then what’s next? Smaller balls? Smaller pitches? Smaller 18-yard boxes?

“It makes the game different and we want it to be as equal and fair as possible. The quality of the goalkeeping coaching available in the women’s game is rising. We are behind the men’s game, but that doesn’t mean we alter things.”

Fabio Capello speaks during the Laureus Sports Awards - GETTY IMAGES

The two Chelsea players were speaking ahead of their top-of-the-table clash with Manchester City this weekend.

City have won 11 consecutive home matches, a club record, and have not lost since these two sides met at Kingsmeadow in December.

But City, who are one point clear of Chelsea, are adapting to life under a new head coach, with Alan Mahon preparing for just his third match in charge after the departure of Nick Cushing, who left this month to join New York City FC as an assistant.

But England does not expect the change of manager to affect performances too much on the pitch. “I think City have got their foundations set, I don’t think Nick leaving makes a massive impact on the way they play,” she said.

“The team is still the same and I guess it depends on selection and whether he decides to change it. The way City have played it’s worked for them, they’ve been keeping clean sheets and putting in good performances so I don’t expect to see much of a change from them. Albeit they might be changing their analysis to see where they can hurt us more, just like we’re doing with them.”

Chelsea’s previous trip to Manchester was postponed this month due to poor weather conditions. This means that Chelsea have a game in hand, but, Cuthbert admitted: “It’s knocked us a bit the fact that we’re not top of the table. We’re in a chasing position which we can’t do anything about but we want to be top.”