Look up the word ‘glamour’ in the dictionary and you will find the following description: dazzling brightness; striking, beguiling appearance.
And in recent times, football and glamour have become close bedfellows with stars such as David Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo smiling down from large advertising hoardings in various stages of dress. Nor do football’s leading ladies lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to posing for the camera.
Swiss women’s international Ana Maria Crnogorcevic was not crowned the Bundesliga’s best-looking footballer by German newspaper Bild for nothing. The 19-year-old Hamburg talent agreed to a body-paint photo shoot with the tabloid, bearing the HSV diamond on her torso and leaving little to the imagination.
The performance of Fatmire 'Lira' Bajramaj on German football show Sportstudio has also entered popular folklore: the German women’s international took aim at the programme’s goal wall in high heels – and scored twice! “Shoes are everything to me. I have a large wardrobe just for shoes,” said Bajramaj in the documentary ‘Die besten Frauen der Welt’ (The best women in the world).
However, a CV featuring victory at the UEFA European Women’s U-19 Championship 2006, the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007, the UEFA Women’s EURO 2009 and a bronze medal at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008 proves she is far from one-dimensional.
Turning from footwear to fingernails and the Japanese women’s national team must merit a mention. At Beijing 2008, their squad all painted their nails in the Olympic colours, thus creating their own eye-catching trademark.
Nor can China PR forward Han Duan deny a penchant for clothes and cosmetics, with the 26-year-old Los Angeles Sol player admitting to spending a large portion of her income on beauty care. On the same wavelength was compatriot Xue Li, vice-president of the Chinese Football Association, who back in 2004 said that “players should draw attention to themselves through their beauty”.
When it comes to body art, America’s Natasha Kai can give her male counterparts serious competition. The Hawaii-born player has countless permanent tattoos adorning her body, many of which depict artistic designs and decorations of Polynesian tradition. The names of her parents, five brothers and sisters and two nephews are inscribed on her arm, leaving little room for any further additions to the family.
The ladies of the beautiful game also like to express their individuality in other ways. Japan’s Eriko Arakawa has opted for the kind of Lenny Kravitz-style afro even Paul Breitner would envy. Also catching the eye is Brazilian full-back Leah Lynn, whose spectacular throw-in technique involves her performing an acrobatic flip before catapulting the ball deep into her opponents’ territory.
”It’s not a trick for the crowd, it’s a highly effective technique that’s helped us to score many goals. The ball travels much further, almost like a corner, giving us much more chance of scoring from an attack. Obviously it also relies on our players’ outstanding ability on high balls,” said Leah in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com.
The last word goes to German sports anchor and comedian Oliver Welke, who gave his verdict on the women’s game to FIFA.com: “There is a fantastic technical standard and, as one would expect, even the tackling is cultured. The idea that the game lacks in physical contact is obviously a myth.”