The 20-0 defeat of Latvia by England Women has sparked a discussion about fairness in international sports. Experts warn that unfair games could be financial disasters for the sport.

The record breaking night enjoyed by Lionesses fans was broken when the England manager and one parent of the Latvian player were questioned about whether matches between countries with well-funded budgets like the US or UK are worth it. Commentators and fans have also questioned the validity of these matchups.

All of the Lionesses work full time as professional athletes and play at club and international levels. The Latvian football team is mainly made up of teens who also have jobs.

One parent of a Latvian player commented on a report of the game on The Guardian’s website, saying: ‘I am a bit biased (obviously), but everyone should know these girls should play at their own level and develop without unnecessary humiliation… there is something not quite wholesome about the whole business.’

The players from smaller countries, who are often inexperienced with football and work full-time jobs as well as playing football, may be able to play against larger nations like England. 

The scoreboard tells a humiliating story as England Women's team thrashed Latvia 20-0

Scoreboard shows a shocking story: England’s Women’s Team defeated Latvia 20-0 

Latvia goalkeeper Alina Sklemenova can't bear to look after conceding the 20th goal

Latvia goalkeeper Alina Sklemenova can’t bear to look after conceding the 20th goal 

Sarina Wiegman from England was left wondering if such games are worth it after the 20-0 scoreline.

She said, “Of course, you want to play competitive games. These aren’t competitive games.”

“We want to create well-developed and less developed countries, so we want to make sure that women are able to play in all countries.

“But, I don’t believe it’s good that scores are so high. It’s clear that this has been noticed by FIFA, UEFA and FIFA. 

The mismatch has also been questioned by commentators, who have argued that it could cause harm to women’s sport, which has experienced an amazing growth over recent years. 

Kim Kothari, talkSPORT’s producer said that such large losses were “bad for the game”.

“It’s absolutely brutal. It is a great match for England. However, the result for England doesn’t really look good for the game.

“And that was two weeks ago. England beat San Marino 10-nil. There was an appeal for qualification so that result didn’t come about.

Georgia Stanway of England celebrates a goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup after a 20-0 defeat

After a defeat of 20-0, Georgia Stanway from England celebrates her goal in the FIFA Women’s World Cup

«And I think that he’s more relevant in women’s games because of the shortage of funding.

‘England. Australia, the United States of America, Holland countries like that,  put so much emphasis into the women’s game funded properly. 

“So, we have amazing players and we also have these academies which can nurture and bring out talent. Latvia is one of the few countries that doesn’t have this, and it has not put much emphasis on. You end up with games such as this, where 11 professional players are playing against 11 semi-pro or amateur players.

Laura Sinutkina (18 years old), who was playing for Latvia in the World Cup qualifier in Doncaster, had to concede eight first-half goals.

Alina Sklemenova (17 years old), was the replacement at half time. Alina, who made her international debut, conceded 12 times and had videos of her failures go viral via Twitter.

England managed 64 shots against the Latvian goal. On average one shot every 84 seconds. Latvia had zero.

England have scored 30 goals past part-timers Latvia in two World Cup qualifier against them

England scored 30 goals in the World Cup qualifiers against Latvia, where they defeated part-timers Latvia by two goals

England also scored 10 goals in a match against Luxembourg earlier in World Cup qualifying

In a World Cup qualifier match, England scored 10 goals against Luxembourg.

Other players have also taken to Twitter to complain about the inequity of the game.

Sports blogger Tim Stillman wrote: ‘Latvia had a lot of their team unavailable last night because players couldn’t get time off from their jobs, which emphasises the gap between them and a NT like England as much as the final score does.’

Another fan commented: “England Women beat Latvia 20-0.” I mean fair play to England but how is this meant to help increase interest in woman’s football? Complete mismatch. It’s embarrassing and, frankly speaking, embarrassing for this competition.

Another commentator said: Fair play England’s Women’s Football Team is the absolute dominant, but the Latvian team is far, far behind the pace. International competition shouldn’t have 20-0.

Some called it “a glorified training program”, while others wrote, “This England women’s game isn’t fair… To be honest, it hurts me to think of Latvia.’.

Even the England coach Sarina Wiegman questioned the purpose of such one-sided matches

Sarina Wiegman from England was even skeptical about the goal of one-sided matches.

These beatings don’t happen often, but it isn’t. England has dominated North Macedonia with 8-0, Luxembourg, 10-0, and Latvia away at home 10-0 in this qualifying group. The score was then doubled on Tuesday night.

England has now scored 53 goals during six qualifiers for the tournament. It will be held jointly by Australia and New Zealand on 2023.

It’s not just England that is suffering from these huge losses. During the 2020 Olympics, New Zealand defeated Zambia by 10-3 and China by 8-2. The US beat New Zealand by 8-2.

These qualifiers saw North Macedonia beat by Northern Ireland 9-0 at their home, and North Macedonia 11-0 away. Austria scored eight goals in just two matches.

France beat Greece 10 times and Estonia 11 times, respectively. Georgia won 11-0 against the Republic of Ireland. Spain defeated Faroe Islands 12-0. Belgium beat Armenia by double figures.

England reached the semi-finals of the last World Cup, losing to the United States

England was defeated by the United States to reach the semi-finals in the previous World Cup. 

There is a widening gap between countries that have professional players, talent pools large and adequate facilities and those who lack them.

According to the Guardian, only 200 Latvian women are involved in football. The national team can train two times per week due to the fact that their players have to work, and in certain cases go to school. 

It’s not a unique phenomenon in women’s football. While the England men’s football team has scored 10 goals recently against San Marino (which is becoming a rarer and more common), such victories are getting less frequent.

This is a serious problem for UEFA, the European Football governing body and FIFA, the international overseers of European football.

Others have taken to Twitter to lament the unfairness at the game. Sports blogger Tim Stillman wrote: 'Latvia had a lot of their team unavailable last night because players couldn’t get time off from their jobs, which emphasises the gap between them and a NT like England as much as the final score does.'

Other players have used Twitter to complain about the unfairness of the match. Sports blogger Tim Stillman wrote: ‘Latvia had a lot of their team unavailable last night because players couldn’t get time off from their jobs, which emphasises the gap between them and a NT like England as much as the final score does.’

Some have claimed that Latvia and other nations who are subject to humiliations are sovereign states and therefore have equal rights to attempt and qualify for important tournaments, such as the World Cup, the European Championship, and so on.

Football offers a unique opportunity for players to travel the world with their respective teams.

UEFA and FIFA know that one-sided games can turn off viewers and those who purchase tickets.

Commercial revenues from the development of women’s games will be affected if interest is lost.

The governing bodies have increased their commitment to players and clubs in countries that do not have professional football, but there is no guarantee the gap will be closed.

It must have a maximum number of double-digit defeats before a player loses their love for the game.

A solution to this problem is for smaller countries to play against each other during pre-qualifying. They will then move on to the second phase, which will allow them to take on larger and more advanced countries.

This would allow for more opponents of similar standards and mean that countries such as England will arrive prepared at tournaments having been tested against stronger competitors.

A men’s example, the UEFA Nations League, could be used as a model for women’s soccer teams.

It ranks every nation on its ability in 4 Leagues, and makes sure that all games are against opponents of comparable standard.

The minnows still have the possibility of qualifying for a tournament, so it’s not impossible to play in one.

However, such a division would need to be agreed by a number of smaller countries. They would not want to lose their glamour games with France, Spain, and England which bring in money and interest.