England player takes a break from international football because of family pressures

// 29 March 2011


Bad news for England’s women’s football team, three months prior to the World Cup, as key midfielder Katie Chapman opts to take a break from international football because of the pressures of juggling her role as footballer and role as mother.

England manager Hope Powell explained: “With two young children and her commitments at Arsenal, Katie has understandably found it difficult to juggle her family life and her football.

“She has been a wonderful servant to England over the years. I have spoken with her and I fully respect her decision.”

Comments From You

Amelia // Posted 29 March 2011 at 12:50 pm

Something that wouldn’t be an issue if she received the pay of whoever is in exactly the same position on the men’s team.

luise // Posted 29 March 2011 at 2:02 pm

sorry i meant i do not think it is about the money, she just wants to be there for her kids.

Amity // Posted 29 March 2011 at 10:16 pm

No offence to Carrie, because I’m sure she didn’t mean it, but this post has left a bad taste in my mouth. ‘Bad news’ for England because a woman wanted to spend more time with her family? She ‘opt[ed] out’ because of ‘family pressures’?

The message I got from this was that Ms. Chapman’s family were making unfair demands on her time, not that perhaps the football club were, and that her leaving to spend more time with her children is a tragic consequence of inequality between the sexes, not a failing on the part of society to allow women (and men!) to successfully combine involved parenting with involved careers.

I hope I’m wrong in my initial reaction but suffice to say, I’m disappointed. I’m not blaming Carrie’s reporting of the issue, just the depressing way that nothing ever changes when it comes to motherhood and work!

Carrie // Posted 29 March 2011 at 10:19 pm

Hi Amity, I’m just reporting what the statement on Katie Chapman’s career break said.

And yes, it IS “bad news” for the team prior to a World Cup, though I can see you might not see it that way.

Amity // Posted 30 March 2011 at 9:55 am

Carrie, it was more the way there was no analysis of what role her career pressures might have played in her decision and instead focused on the pressures of family.

Again, I’m sure you didn’t mean for it to read that way but the way her ‘opting out’ was framed as a negative thing for the team was too eerily reminiscent of the way businesses view women going on maternity leave or parents taking time off to look after their children as having a negative impact on the ‘bottom line’.

When it is only viewed in light of what it means for the team/business and not what it might mean for her and her family, it does not give a complete and honest picture of the struggle that working mothers face.

Carrie Dunn // Posted 30 March 2011 at 10:19 am

Hi Amity, thanks for your reply – to be honest I didn’t have time to blog in any more detail, just report what I knew about it, which is the football-related stuff and the statement Hope Powell made. Katie Chapman hasn’t made a public statement about it yet – will be very interested to know what she says. Seem to remember her playing in one international tournament while noticeably pregnant…

Sheila // Posted 30 March 2011 at 10:25 am

I don’t like the implications in luise’s post that women who work don’t want to be there for their kids too. They might simply not be able to afford it or might also think that a working parent is a good role model for children who will have to earn their own living when they grow up. Too often when women leave their jobs, pressures of juggling it all are cited as the reason. It’s an easy get out where employer and employee want to agree a story as to why someone may be leaving. I don’t know in this specific case, but in a number of cases I am aware of, it’s just a story. Sadly a story which becomes true because it’s hard to get back into the job market as a mother with children sometimes. The interesting thing here is that the footballer in question actually has a choice – the financial means to walk out of a job. But don’t write posts that suggest that mothers working outside of the home don’t want to spend time with their kids too.

Carrie Dunn // Posted 30 March 2011 at 10:27 am

I don’t think Luise was saying that, I think she was just commenting on that in this case in passing.

luise // Posted 30 March 2011 at 11:29 am

oh sorry Sheila i did not mean all women i meant her, I was just responding to the comment Amelia made. She obviously saw her kids as her main priorities and i do not think her getting paid more would change that.

Amelia // Posted 30 March 2011 at 12:17 pm

I see what you’re saying Luise. I made that comment because I think money can be a really important tool that allows mothers to have an intensive career and look after children. I’ve worked as an au pair for a family who use their wealth to make sure the time-consuming tasks of everyday life are taken care of so they can spend as much quality time as possible with their children. I don’t doubt this is the lifestyle to which male footballers at this level are accustomed. It shouldn’t be any different for a female footballer, hence mentioning the salary issue.

That said, it was flippant of me to assume that the struggle was of practicalities rather than for emotional reasons, especially since my own mother has spoken about her guilt of working at all (no doubt inspired by the requirement that women in our society be mothers first and foremost, but also because that’s just the way my mum is) and the complaints of me or my siblings that she never spent time with us (entirely untrue, but such is the way of children). It’s entirely possible that Chapman’s priorities have just shifted to a point where she would rather be spending her time differently, as is her prerogative.

Sheila // Posted 30 March 2011 at 1:15 pm

For me prerogatives are harder. I believe for most women, working outside of the home is not a prerogative but a necessity. Choice feels like a luxury. In the olden days, I used to think feminism was about the exercise of choice, now I feel militantly that it is about the absence of choice for many women. I can’t say I respect a woman’s choice to work outside the home or not if I don’t know if she truly had the choice. Frequently choice and prerogative of the vocabulary of people who make an assumption that choice and prerogative is available to all when for many of us working (and for some of us not working) the lack of choice is the most galling thing. My freedom and ability to take on responsibility is curtailed and I feel that part of that restriction is caused by the inequalities I suffer as a woman. Some women may have prerogatives to make choices about staying at home or working. But many do not.

Mobot // Posted 1 April 2011 at 6:17 pm

The first thing that springs to my mind is just ‘when have you ever heard of a footballer on a men’s team taking a break due to family responsibilities?’ If it was close to the World Cup, they’d no doubt be fired!

For me, the point is not whether she should or shouldn’t be taking time off but that it’s a shame we don’t see more men doing likewise, more flexible work structures or better shared parenting responsibilities (in the broadest possible sense). I know, way to state the obvious. But it’s so irritating that this stuff comes up time and time again…

Merrilee // Posted 2 April 2011 at 2:54 pm

Agree with Mobot. Also, if this concerned a male footballer, everyone would be blaming his wife/partner. Like the media always blame footballers wives and partners for anything that might stop the big hero concentrating on his career. Which of course matters more than ANYTHING.

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