With the sixth FIFA Women's World Cup soon to get underway in Germany, it's a good time to take a look at how integrated the world game really is.
While much has been done in areas of racial equality and in getting poorer kids involved in the game, the great divide between men and women players remains.
This is puzzling as soccer is a game that in theory could be played by both sexes, equally, in mixed teams.
However, its not so surprising given the misogynistic attitudes of high-up administrators, from Sepp Blatter down (including many top players, media and supporters), cultural obstacles to women playing sport in general and the more physical nature of the modern professional men's game.
But, as anyone who has seen top level women's football, the decrease in overt physicality and speed is more than compensated by the greater flow and by the diminished presence of win-at-costs attitude. The bravado and macho cuture of the men's game is shown up as empty posing as the women players seem to be much more relaxed and more even spirited, and certainly seem to be enjoying themselves a lot more, win, lose or draw (notwithstanding the ocassional bust-up, as the picture above from a game between Australia and China a few years ago shows).
For many women, as this article shows, soccer is a life-changer and true force for equality and shared experience across the world
I know I'll be watching it.