Sports

Once banned, women's soccer thriving at Olympics

Sweden midfielder Lisa Dahlkvist (7) fouls Canada forward Christine Sinclair (12) during second half of a group F women's soccer match at St James' Park in Newcastle, England, during the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

Sweden midfielder Lisa Dahlkvist (7) fouls Canada forward Christine Sinclair (12) during second half of a group F women's soccer match at St James' Park in Newcastle, England, during the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)  (AP2012)

Women's soccer (football) was once banned from Football League grounds in England because the game was deemed "quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged."

The ban was lifted in 1971, and four decades later the women's game is getting an unprecedented boost at the London Olympics.

The same venues that kept women off the pitch are seeing support ranging from decent to robust, topped by the 70,584 who watched Britain beat Brazil at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night. It was a record British crowd and the third-largest to watch a women's game anywhere.

Britain player Eniola Aluko said the team is "breaking boundaries." She says "the people who are in control of the game can recognize now that women's football is essentially a sport."