Test Cover Image of:  Kicking Center

Kicking Center

Gender and the Selling of Women's Professional Soccer

Girls and young women participate in soccer at record levels and the Women’s National Team regularly draws media, corporate, and popular attention. Yet despite increased representation and visibility, gender disparities in opportunity, compensation, training resources, and media airtime persist in soccer, and two professional leagues for women have failed since 2000.

In Kicking Center, Rachel Allison investigates a women’s soccer league seeking to break into the male-dominated center of U.S. professional sport. Through an examination of the challenges and opportunities identified by those working for and with this league, she demonstrates how gender inequality is both constructed and contested in professional sport. Allison details the complex constructions of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the selling and marketing of women’s soccer in a half-changed sports landscape characterized by both progress and backlash, and where professional sports are still understood to be men’s territory.

Author Information

RACHEL ALLISON is an assistant professor of sociology and faculty affiliate of gender studies at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.


“A critical and much-needed addition to the scholarship on soccer in general and women’s soccer in particular. This book fills so many knowledge gaps that it is nothing short of a gift to either sports fan or sociologist.”
— Dave Zirin, sports editor, The Nation

“With the 1999Women’s World Cupas her starting point, Rachel Allison traces the complex reasons why a glass ceiling exists on women’s advancement in professional sports. She offers a sophisticated, rigorous, and engaging account of how women’s sports leagues operate and how women’s soccer has been sold in the U.S. Anyone who cares about the future of women’s sports should read this book.”

— Cheryl Cooky, author of No Slam Dunk: Gender, Sport and the Unevenness of Social Change

Kicking Center is an engaging, well-written book. Allison offers just the right mix of academic findings and pop-culture references and provocations. This original work raises important questions and then answers them with vim, precision, and rigor.”
— Jules Boykoff, author of Activism and the Olympics: Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London

— The Society Pages - Engaging Sports

"One of the most comprehensive books on women and sport to come out in recent years....Those working in sport—including and perhaps especially men—to pick up this book and read it with an open mind."
— Gender & Society

"Allison convincingly demonstrates the systematic marginalization of women’s athletics and athletes, who nonetheless challenge the inequalities they routinely face. Recommended."
— Choice

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