England’s most-capped women’s footballer Fara Williams reveals Super League sides shame their players by putting them in ‘fat clubs’ – as survey reveals a THIRD of elite players have eating disorders
- Retired England legend Fara Williams struggled ‘having to look a certain way’
- A study found that 36 per cent displayed symptoms of disordered eating
- She revealed that top Women’s Super League sides openly use term ‘fat club’
- Williams is aware of younger players who have been put off international camps
England legend Fara Williams has called on women’s football to tackle the worrying rise in eating disorders among players and revealed top clubs openly use terms like ‘fat club’.
Williams, who retired last year, said she often struggled with food while away on international camps and the pressures of ‘having to look a certain way’.
Her comments come after the first academic study to explore the prevalence of mental health issues among top female players in England found that 36 per cent of the 115 participants displayed symptoms of disordered eating.
‘It was something that I was concerned about as a player,’ Williams said. ‘Having been an experienced player in the international set-up, I was there for nearly 20 years. It was very uncomfortable for me at times because I like food, I like to eat but you felt as though you couldn’t eat certain foods because you were being watched.
‘I hated dinner times. I used to just have scrambled eggs for breakfast, I’d be starving. But then you’re thinking you’ve got to go onto the pitch, I’ve got to go and train on a little bit of scrambled egg on my plate. Because you feel like you’re being watched.
Fara Williams has called on women’s football to deal with a big problem over body image
She revealed top Women’s Super League sides openly use ‘crazy’ labels including ‘fat club’
‘When I look at some of the foreign national teams, they look athletic. You can see a difference in somebody that looks athletic and somebody that looks skinny and somebody that doesn’t eat because they want to look a certain way. It’s something I spoke about quite regularly with some of my club coaches.
‘It’s not right that we just talk about being a certain body fat percentage, that’s not educating people. Or you get a fat test every time you go into camp and if you’re not under a certain body percentage you go into “fat club”.
‘To label something “fat club” as a professional is crazy. I was never in fat club, I would never go, I would just not play the game. It was a term openly used at big clubs in the WSL.
‘It’s something I spoke about for years with managers at top level because I’ve always disagreed with how the body fat percentage has been used, especially with women.’
Williams also said that she was aware of younger players who had been put off from going to international camps.
Williams said she struggled with international camps and having to ‘look a certain way’
Williams is also aware of younger players who have been put off going to international camps
‘You do hear of young players not wanting to go away to the national team,’ she added. ‘When I was at Reading, there was some of the girls that were in the underage group and didn’t want to go away. When I’ve been at Everton as a young coach, some players didn’t want to go away to the national team.
‘I’ve always thought there’s an issue in women’s football. We talk now about wearing fitted kits, but you’ve got to look a certain way to fit into that kit. When you had bigger, baggier kits, you could hide a lot underneath it. I worry when I see some of these players, you can see that they’re struggling with their diet, but people will say they look good.
‘It is a big problem, it is something that needs dealing with. We’re talking about being a role model and you’re feeling that way as somebody that is the role model for these younger players looking up to you, it’s worrying.’