Copa 71

Rachel Ramsay, James Erskine


»Why haven’t I seen this before?« In the first scene of Copa 71, American international footballer Brandi Chastain stares at her tablet in amazement. She is watching footage of the first ever international women’s football tournament in Mexico City in 1971, Copa 71. Why is it that one of the best-attended women’s sporting events of all time has been forgotten?

In 1970, the first European tournament took place in Italy; SC 07 Bad Neuenahr represented Germany. A year later, international teams from Argentina, England, France, Denmark and Mexico competed against each other in Mexico. This purely commercial event, which was not backed by FIFA, proved a huge success, attracting crowds of 100,000 to the stadiums. Yet what could have been the launch pad for women’s football worldwide failed to attract any support. Another ten years would pass before the next international tournament. In Taipei, Taiwan, SSG 09 Bergisch Gladbach became world champions in 1981. This also paved the way for the formation of an official women’s national team in Germany in 1982. One thing to note though: women’s football was officially banned until 1970. Perhaps not surprising then that another decade passed before the first FIFA Women’s World Cup was held, in China. The final saw Brandi Chastain score the winning penalty to help the US take the trophy home.

The film presents archive footage of the tournament, plus interviews with the players of the time – impressive personalities who provide vivid accounts of the preparations and the tournament itself. A threatened walk-out by the Mexican team over pay at one point put the tournament in jeopardy, as did the tense atmosphere between the teams, still tangible when watching the film in the cinema.


Rachel Ramsay, James Erskine


Rachel Ramsay, James Erskine, Victoria Gregory


Angela Neil


Arturo Calvete, Mark Roberts


Rob Lord


Victoria Gregory, Jannat Gargi, Anna Godas, New Black Films, Dogwoof, Westbrook Studio



Portrait of Rachel Ramsay

Rachel Ramsay

News journalist Rachel Ramsay came to film production and eventually film directing through her work in journalism for CNN, BBC World Service and The New York Times. Together with James Erskine, Ramsay has produced various streamer documentary series about sport, including the football documentary The End of the Storm (2020), This is Football (2019), Sachin: a Billion Dreams (2017) and Le Mans: Racing is Everything (2017). Copa 71 is her first feature film as co-director.