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A female manager at the World Cup shows how far women in sport have come – and how far is left to go (Croatia)

When England lost to Croatia on Wednesday, it was the first time England had played in a World Cup semi-final since 1990. Except, of course, it wasn’t – as many pointed out.

In 2015, England reached the same stage at the Women’s World Cup, captained by Steph Houghton, Manchester City skipper and a three-time goal scorer in the London Olympics.

But it was, however, the first time a woman has ever sat on the Croatian bench at a World Cup match.

Croatia’s head coach and top manager Zlatko Dalic was joined by team manager Iva Olivari: a vocal advocate of women’s representation in football who has been described by the team as “their guardian angel”.

Incidentally, she is also a former tennis champion and one of the greatest female players in the sport, who once beat Steffi Graf. We’ll get another look at her in today’s World Cup final.

Silvia Dorschnerova, who serves as a delegate for Spain’s national team, has also been on the sidelines in this tournament: her fifth World Cup.

So casual ignorance aside, this World Cup has seen great strides for women in football. The BBC director of sport, Barbara Slater, has massively increased coverage of the women’s game, and we’ve seen multiple trailers advertising female football during the corporation’s broadcasting of the competition.

Croatia’s (first) female president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, was widely praised for being on the sidelines at the quarter-final against Russia in a team jersey, before jetting off to the Nato summit.

An online movement was launched to tackle sexist perceptions of football viewers, called #WeAreFemaleFans.

The “Not-So-Beautiful Game” campaign highlighted recent studies that have shown how much violence against women increases when England play (26 per cent), and how much when they lose (38 per cent), drawing widespread attention to the correlation between domestic abuse and football.



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