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Fara Williams reveals top Women’s Super League sides use ‘crazy’ labels including ‘fat club’

England legend Fara Williams reveals Women’s Super League clubs are openly using ‘crazy’ labels like ‘fat club’ as she calls for action on the ‘big problem’ of eating disorders and body image in women’s football

  • Retired English legend Fara Williams had a hard time looking a certain way
  • One study found that 36 percent had symptoms of eating disorders
  • She revealed that top Women’s Super League teams openly use the term ‘fat club’
  • Williams is aware of younger players who have set up international camps

English legend Fara Williams has called on women’s football to tackle the worrying rise in eating disorders among players, revealing that top clubs openly use terms like ‘fat club’.

Williams, who retired last year, said she often struggled with food while at international camps and the pressure of “having to look a certain way.”

Her comments come after the first academic survey of the prevalence of mental health problems among top female players in England, which found that 36 percent of the 115 participants showed symptoms of eating disorders.

“It was something I worried about as a player. As an experienced player in the international setting, I have been there for almost 20 years. It was very uncomfortable for me at times because I love food, I love food, but you felt like you couldn’t eat certain foods because you were being watched.

“I hated meal times. I always had scrambled eggs for breakfast, then I would starve. But then you think you have to get on the field, I have to start training on some scrambled eggs on my plate. Because you feel like you’re being watched.

“When I look at some foreign teams, they look athletic. You can see a difference in someone who looks athletic and someone who looks skinny and someone who doesn’t eat because they want to look a certain way. It’s something I talked about regularly with some of my club coaches.

Fara Williams has called on women's football to tackle a major body image problem

Fara Williams has called on women’s football to tackle a major body image problem

She revealed top Women's Super League teams are openly using 'crazy' labels, including 'fat club'

She revealed top Women’s Super League teams are openly using ‘crazy’ labels, including ‘fat club’

‘It is not correct that we are only talking about a certain percentage of body fat, that is not to educate people. Or you get a fat test every time you go to camp and if you are not below a certain body percentage you go to ‘fat club’.

Labeling something ‘fat club’ as a professional is insane. I was never in a fat club, I would never go, I just wouldn’t play the game. It was a term used openly among major clubs in the WSL.

“It’s something I’ve talked about with top-level executives for years because I’ve always disagreed with the way body fat percentage has been used, especially with women.”

Williams also said she was aware of younger players who had been deterred from going to international camps.

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Williams is also aware of younger players who have been deterred from going to international camps

“You sometimes hear of young players who don’t want to go to the national team. When I was in Reading, there were some girls who were in the underage group and didn’t want to leave. When I was a young coach at Everton, some players didn’t want to join the national team.

“I’ve always thought there’s a problem in women’s football. We’re talking about wearing fitted kits now, but you have to look a certain way to fit into that kit. If you had bigger, roomier kits, you could hide a lot under them. I worry when I see some of these players, you can tell they are struggling with their diet, but people will say they look good.

“It’s a big problem, it’s something that needs to be addressed. We’re talking about being a role model and you feel like someone who is the role model for these younger players who look up to you, that’s worrying.”

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