The world football governing body, Fifa, has ruled that a leading female Mexican footballer should not be allowed to play for a professional men's club.
Maribel Dominguez had signed for the Mexican second-division club Celaya which would have been a first for football in North and Central America.
However, the Fifa executive committee has said that the division between men and women in the sport should be maintained.
Do you agree with the Fifa ruling? Should women be barred from playing men's football? Do you think men and women can compete on the same level?
This debate is now closed. Here are some of the comments we received:
This reminds me of the Lebron James in the NBA. Even though he is under 20, he is as physically strong and skilled as the best in the NBA. I don't understand why a woman who is as skilled and as physically strong as other players can't play Fifa football. If she is good enough, then she deserves the chance.
Sunil, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
I think it must be allowed, we are living in 21st century.
Kanwaljit Singh, New London, USA
Would male players be less keen at fouling, punching and kicking female players? If the male players are busy chasing women on the pitch, will this dampen their desire to chase them when away from the pitch? What would the women hold whilst defending a penalty kick?
Paul Millennas, Ruthin, North Wales
I can see no possible way that women can compete physically, and equally, on the football pitch. You only need to watch a particularly "grumpy" match to understand what I mean. Men are inherently stronger and are of a larger build than women - just take a look at a man's legs (in football) to see the size difference! This is PC gone mad.
Paul Kerton, Reading, UK
To those who are decrying the sexism of Fifa: Should we allow men to compete in women's leagues?
Eric, Akron, Ohio USA
I think this issue is similar to the army - if women are tough enough to keep pace with men, and want to do it, then let them compete. Then if they're not good enough they won't play.
Nathan Haslewood, Cologne, Germany
FIFA is making an excellent decision. For all those want equality for women in sports, please don't forget that you cannot have both ways. If men start to be allowed to compete in women's sport as the result, I wonder how many positions would be left for women in those physical sports. Just look at the Olympics sprint, how many women could get into final of 100m with all of the trainings they have now? They may not get a single medal in track and field. It is a dis-service for women's sports.
Shawn, Detroit, USA
Many female players play on a good enough level right now to make it on lesser premiership and better division 1 clubs. Of course they should allow this. Wait, the real question is how DARE they DISallow it in the year 2004. How idiotic and backward.
James Cates, Virginia Beach, VA, US
Anyone who thinks women should be playing football alongside and in competition with men simply doesn't understand and has clearly never played competitive football. At all levels women's football is markedly inferior to the men's game in every department. In life we are not all created equally it is about time we accepted it and got on with life.
As a female junior coach who has two girls in my team I think that girls are on a par with men/boys. I will lose two very good players next season as the girls are not allowed to play as part of a mixed team when they are 11 years old. Pathetic or what?
Rachel Smith, Ulverston, England
I believe it should stay separate. A man would never be allowed to play in a women's team, so why would this be any different?
Dan Edworthy, Milton Keynes
It would be a shame if FIFA refuse to allow gender mixing as given the way many men react when tackled in the Premiership, I think it's clear that they would be better off playing with girls.
Roger, London, England
Women should not be banned at all - it's a competitive sport. If they're good enough they'll win, if not they won't - I don't see the problem. Just another example of old school sexism?
Brian Brown, Bicester, England
Hooray for FIFA, another blow for the PC lobby! Let's hope that this is acknowledged in the UK so that girls can be girls and young ladies again, leaving the boys to work off their energies with rough and tumble football.
Stephen Perriman, Somerton Somerset
In an age of gradual, if slow, integration of women in all sections of professional life, and when the "gender separation" lines are getting more and more blurred, the decision of FIFA to ban female players from men's football has a stale taste of medieval desire for male domination. Are we men afraid women will prove to be better? Where is the equality and emancipation for women we all pretend to support? Professional sport (that is, entertainment business) has enormous social influence and therefore responsibility, and mixed teams would be a powerful and meaningful way towards a more equal and fair society.
Paul, Glasgow, UK
I think the time has come for us to look at sport as a uni-sex activity. Women should be given the option of participating in men's football as well. Since there are not many women capable to excelling in this men's game, it wouldn't be a threat to men as well. It might spice-up the football. Add to that, more women might watch the game - good news for the advertisers.
G A B, Hyderabad, India
Where should we stop? Women are not be able to compete with men in a physical sport. Please do not mix water and fire, because it does not work.
Why not, this will promote gender equality. I don't see any reason for not allowing women to be part of men's football team.
Mohammad Rafi, Kabul, Afghanistan
Of course not! If they've got the ability, they should have the same right to play as the men. Or are the men afraid of being outclassed, perhaps?
Sophy, Cambridge, UK
Why should FIFA be exempt from anti-discrimination laws? If women are good enough let them play!
Whatever its reasons for this, I believe FIFA is missing a real opportunity to take the game forward and increase its popularity with women. The decision is a bit contradictory if you ask me. On one hand FIFA has no problem with women refereeing men's games (or vice versa), but it does have a problem with women and men playing together. If women footballers can show themselves to be physically capable, I am all for their playing with men. It's for the good of a game we all love.
Austin Agho, Port of Spain, Trinidad
Why not. If they are physically fit and can go through the rigours of training, then they should be allowed to participate. This is a free world and people should belong to where they can fit in and perform to their maximum capacity. There should be no gender difference. If women can drive automobiles and fly aircraft, when can't they play soccer with their male counterparts? I support them, variety is the spice of life.
Okpewho Nobert, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
If the women have the ability to play as well as the men play, then they should be allowed to play.
Jim Lewis, Stuart, Fl., USA
They shouldn't be allowed as they don't have the physical strength or fitness to compete with men, plus what would happen when swapping shirts?
Harry Bajwa, Kettering, England
No way they should be banned! If they can handle the pace and physicality they should be allowed to compete.
Helen, Cambridge, UK
The separation of men's and women's football is mostly there because the majority of women do not have the physical capacity for the men's game. But where they do, they should be allowed to compete. The important thing is not in top-level professional football, but at semi-pro and amateur level where skilled women are likely to be better than many male players, and there are few female teams.
Rob, Leeds, UK
Despite the fact that by nature men are generally stronger than women, if female players can match them in strength, technique and skill why should they be banned? Why keep them segregated purely because of their sex if they are on the same level of performance as men? If they shape up and can keep up let them play.
A Rye, UK / Spain
They should play if they are as good as the men, but they clearly are not. Obviously the rampant feminists will argue, but on this one they will be wrong and besides, it would mean changing the whole world's stadiums and clubs to have female changing rooms etc, so also a practical issue.
Terry Ffoulkes, Wallasey U.K.
I can't see what the problem is- if a woman is able to compete at the top (or any level) with men then she should, if she can't compete then she shouldn't. It's not sexist to say that men (in general) are physically stronger than women and hence it's not very often that women could play along side men, but on the occasions when talented female footballers do come about then they should.
Nicky, Edinburgh, UK
I think too many problems would be encountered with mixed sex teams, there is a lot of contact in the sport and it would be only a matter of time before someone complained of unsporting behaviour.
So many women are loyal fans of football clubs and supporters of national teams, why can't they cheer for one of their own playing? If they are good, why not? Football should be universal, not only to race... but to gender as well.
Tony, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Yes there should be bans. The sexes are of equal worth and value but they are not the same. It is all well and good saying women should be allowed to compete against men but two very big reasons work against them. First men's physical strength makes it more a publicity stunt than anything else. Second if laws are changed to allow anyone to compete against anyone what is to stop a man entering a woman's event? I don't think anyone really wants to see the worlds 500th ranked men's tennis player winning the women's Wimbledon title do we?
Oh for goodness sake! Of course they should. What a load of sexist nonsense to say no. Ok so the game will have to adapt but so what?! Surely this goes to show that the so called 'glass ceiling' is pretty low when it comes to sport.
Katharine, Nottingham, UK