Madeleine Boll (right) during an international match against England in 1975.
Madeleine Boll (right) during an international match against England in 1975.

Madeleine Boll

License to Play?


Madeleine Boll (born on 8 July 1953 in Sion) was a pioneer who paved the way for women’s football in Switzerland. At the age of 12, in 1965, a momentous incident occurred: she was mistakenly issued a player’s licence by the Swiss Football Association, making her the first Swiss woman to be officially allowed to train and play with the boys in a football club. This mistake sparked controversy and contributed to the debate about the admission of women to football.

Historic international debut

Madeleine Boll caused an international sensation when she and her junior C team played an opening match before FC Sion’s European Cup tie against Galatasaray Istanbul in 1965. There was a huge media frenzy. When the football association found out that a girl was playing football, Madeleine Boll’s licence was immediately revoked. In 1969, she joined the women’s team of the newly founded FC Valère. Her father took over as club president. Just one year later, ‘Mado’ was called up to Italy, the centre of women’s football at the time, where she was nicknamed ‘Montagna Bionda’ (blonde mountain) because of her size and origin. She was tactically and technically better than most of her rivals. Boll contributed 3 goals to Switzerland’s 9-0 victory in the Swiss women’s national team’s first international match (against Austria). After five years in the Italian football world, she played for FC Sion Féminin and helped them win the championship and cup twice in a row.


Today, women’s football is firmly established in Switzerland. Madeleine Boll paved the way for organised women’s football in Switzerland and inspired subsequent generations.  In 2000, she became the first woman to become an official on a national committee of the Swiss Football Association. Here, too, she is a pioneer. Her name will forever be associated with the fight for equal rights in sports.

Thinking Points

Thanks to her passion for football and her talent, Madeleine Boll has helped to break down prejudices and promote acceptance of women in this sport. She helped pave the way for organised women’s football in Switzerland.

Educators could use her life journey to discuss the following questions with young people:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of mixed-gender sports teams?
  • How can we overcome prejudices and inequalities in sport and beyond?
  • Can equality in sports help promote equality in society?

Find out more

Read the Le Nouvelliste article and watch their interview video (French) to find out more about Boll’s story and pioneering legacy. Find out how she blazed a trail for women’s football on page 50 in this FIFA 1904 article. Finally, a video from 1970 about prejudice to women in football shows Boll training. Watch here (French).

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Pioneer of Swiss Women’s Football

Life Story 137

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Madeleine Boll (right) during an international match against England in 1975.
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