Emma Hayes: Chelsea boss says women’s football is ‘middle class’

Emma Hayes: Chelsea boss says women’s football is ‘middle class’

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Women’s football is “middle class” and girls don’t have the same access to playing football as boys, says Chelsea boss Emma Hayes.

Earlier this month, the Football Association also announced plans to ensure every girl with talent has access to quality training.

“We should think differently,” Hayes said.

“Women’s football is, in my opinion, more middle-class in terms of locations and the origin of the players who come is often from suburbs, urban belts around the training grounds,” added the Blues boss.

“They’re not the Alex Scotts, the Rachel Yankeys — (they) don’t come to our facilities in the same way.

“If you want a diverse group at an elite level to join our game, maybe we should travel more to the cities.”

A lack of diversity and opportunity has long been a problem in English women’s football.

The number of black, Asian and minority ethnic players in the England team for a major tournament fell from six in 2007 to two mixed-race players at the 2019 World Cup.

There were three mixed players – Jess Carter, Nikita Parris and Demi Stokes – in the Euro 2022 squad, but none were among the starting XI that went through the tournament unchanged.

Compared to men’s football, the range of Black, Asian and minority ethnic players in women’s football is much smaller.

It is estimated that the proportion of female players in the Women’s Super League is lower – between 10% and 15% – compared to around 33% in the Premier League.

“Boys in the academy game generally have parents who take them somewhere, or they get on trains to do it — girls don’t,” Hayes said.

“Families don’t let girls go to games.”

Following their success at Euro 2022, the Lionesses wrote a letter to the Conservative party leadership candidates to ensure “every young girl” can play football at school.

The team highlighted that only 63% of girls can play football in PE classes, according to an FA campaignexternal link published in 2021.

“My nine-year-old niece goes to school and says to me, ‘Why do I only have the girls’ sessions once a week and the boys have three?'” Hayes added.

“I don’t know why is that? I bet it’s probably like that across the board.

“I wonder in the community how often these pitches are available to girls in a similar way as they are to boys.

“I don’t know what to say to my niece when she’s crying, when she’s like, ‘Why can’t I play it more like (the boys)?'”

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