The history of women's football has seen major competitions being launched at both the national and international levels. Women's football has faced many struggles throughout its history. Although its first golden age occurred in the United Kingdom in the early 1920s, when one match achieved over 50,000 spectators, The Football Association initiated a ban in 1921 that disallowed women's football games from the grounds used by its member clubs. The ban stayed in effect until July 1971.
Women may have been playing "football" for as long as the game has existed. Evidence shows that an ancient version of the game (Tsu Chu) was played by women during the Han Dynasty (25–220 CE). Two female figures are depicted in Han Dynasty (25–220 CE) frescoes, playing Tsu Chu. There are, however, a number of opinions about the accuracy of dates, the earliest estimates at 5000 BCE. Reports of an annual match being played in Scotland are reported as early as the 1790s. The first match recorded by the Scottish Football Association took place in 1892 in Glasgow. In England, the first recorded game of football between women took place in 1895.
Association football, the modern game, also has documented early involvement of women. In Europe, it is possible that 12th-century French women played football as part of that era's folk games. An annual competition in Mid-Lothian, Scotland during the 1790s is reported, too. In 1863, football governing bodies introduced standardized rules to prohibit violence on the pitch, making it more socially acceptable for women to play.
The most well-documented early European team was founded by activist Nettie Honeyball in England in 1894. It was named the British Ladies' Football Club. Honeyball and those like her paved the way for women's football. However the women's game was frowned upon by the British football associations, and continued without their support. It has been suggested that this was motivated by a perceived threat to the 'masculinity' of the game.
Women's football became popular on a large scale at the time of the First World War, when employment in heavy industry spurred the growth of the game, much as it had done for men fifty years earlier. The most successful team of the era was Dick, Kerr's Ladies of Preston, England. The team played in the first women's international matches in 1920, against a team from Paris, France, in April, and also made up most of the England team against a Scottish Ladies XI in 1920, and winning 22-0.