"Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men - such as playing with a lighter ball."

It's been more than ten years since FIFA President Sepp Blatter made this famous gaffe.

LFL will increase public interest in women's football so that women's teams can play to packed stadiums, just like men's teams...

And we all had a good laugh, didn’t we? Old Blatter sticking his archaic, bumbling foot in his mouth yet again. How bloody ridiculous, we thought - accomplished players dribbling footballs with jiggling breasts. What next? Slow-mo replays of just tits? Wet footy shirt competitions? Suspender belts instead of football socks?

We laughed him off and revelled in his suspension this year.

So much has changed since Blatter suggested England's Lionesses get their arse cheeks out for the sake of viewing figures. In June 2015 the Women World’s Cup became the most watched football game in United States history with eighteen million people watching USA's Carli Lloyd score a hat-trick in sixteen minutes. Whilst in the UK, viewing figures peaked at 2.4 million as our Lionesses narrowly lost to Japan in the semi-final to Japan.

All this record breaking coverage, and, would you believe, nobody had to get naked.

So why on earth are we about to see the launch of a Lingerie Football League in Manchester? On Wednesday 23 December, on the rooftop of Hotel Football, two women's football teams plan to strip off and play a match for the sake of equality in the sport.

It is, it seems, an entirely serious venture.

“I want to see a football revolution in my lifetime," explains Lingerie Football League UK founder, Gemma Hughes.

"I’m 23-years-old now and I don’t want to be waiting another twenty years to see women’s football make money from sponsorships. We know this is scandalous, we know it's controversial, but that media attention is what's going to sell tickets. All money made is going to be put back into women's football and to the players.”

Lingerie Football League UkLingerie Football League Uk

Hughes is an 'experiential marketer', a lingerie blogger and remembers 'kicking a footy around' as a child. The Lingerie Football League is a combination of all her passions - and one she's very passionate about.

“The highest paid female footballer makes £65,000 – compare to that to male footballers with wages skyrocketing into the millions. We need to face up to this ugly inequality and the huge gender wage gap.”

The Lingerie Football League’s manifesto is one you can almost buy into, and you do sense that Hughes has the best intentions.

"Women train as hard as men, women are as dedicated to the beautiful game as men, so women should enjoy the same rewards. LFL UK will increase public interest in women's football so that women's teams can play to packed stadiums, just like the elite men's football teams."

"Did you know the head of the Women's Elite Performance Unit in sport is a man?" she adds.

There's no doubting that Women's football still faces the same old misogynist crap, despite its growing interest. After all, football is one of the last bastions of sweary, spitty, rowdy machoism.

It is a feminist issue, and no two feminists are the same; sexy, powerful Beyoncé is certainly no Germaine Greer, for example. It’s complex. Still, there are two noticeable camps: those who'd rather take their clothes off to fight sexual equality, and those who'd rather keep them on for the same purpose.

"I believe I'm an activist," explains Hughes.

“People have a knee jerk reaction when they hear about the Lingerie Football League. But this is not an original idea, it's seen plenty of success in the United States and is one of their fastest emerging sports.”


So, what will they actually wear?

“Lingerie," answers Hughes, "look at the women’s volleyball team - something similar. We have plans to organise kits.”

Is she not worried they'll alienate women who wouldn't be comfortable playing in underwear?

“This is not about the players looking beautiful or sexy, it’s about women looking like women. You only have to look at tennis – the women dress like women and they get same equal pay and similar amount of sponsorship as men.

"In football the women are bound to men’s rule and it’s a poor imitation of the men’s game. There’s a lack of commercial investment as a result. We want to break the stigma that football is just for tomboys.”

Ah, the old ‘football’s not just for tomboys’ guff, harking back to a line from girl football power film, Bend It Like Beckham: ‘Mother, just because I wear trakkies and play sport does not make me a lesbian!’

Sadly, female athletes have to worry about their perceived femininity as well as their abilities. Would Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington gain more sponsorship if her costumes were low cut? Would Olympic athlete Jessica Ennis become more of an icon if she posed nude once in a while? Would female CEOs finally be paid the same as their male counterparts if they turned up to meetings in sexy stockings?

Would women playing in their knickers really make men want to watch women’s football?

Naturally, we're all a little intrigued, viewing figures in the USA, Australia and Canada certainly suggest so, but there's no doubt Hughes will face criticism for her league – and she seems prepared for it.

Still, if the Lingerie Football League does work in pulling in viewers then it only confirms the misogyny inherent in sport. It’s difficult to see how a pink kit and a bit of extra skin will solve the attitudes to women in football, regardless of the pay packet.

Why, to be taken seriously, does it always seem to boil down to 'getting your tits out for the lads'?

As former Fulham, Arsenal and England player, Marieanne Spacey, said in 2004: "Surely it's about skill and tactical ability first and how people look second?"

"Ten years ago we did play in tighter shorts. Nobody paid attention then."

Which ever way you see it, it's hard to look past the fact these women are willing to remove their clothes in order to earn more money. And, unfortunately, we all know there's easier ways of doing that.

To find out more about Lingerie Football League visit www.lingeriefootballleague.co.uk or follow them on Facebook.