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6th Dec, 2023

A woman’s place in football is wherever she chooses it to be

Our COO Hollie Varney says the recent debate about women's roles in football will only embolden them to amplify their voices further.

Women have no place in men’s football' is a phrase all too familiar for female fans, players and those working in the game. Ask any woman who supports a football team if they have experienced sexism and misogyny, and you will sadly find that most have.


What is frankly laughable, are the comments from mainly men and on social media, saying where they think women should work in football. It has absolutely nothing to do with them, just in the same way women don’t dictate what role men play. We should all be able to have ambitions and dreams, whatever they are, regardless of what gender we are.


For any woman working in football or sport, the narrative over the past week has been disrespectful and for those wishing to join them in the industry, it has been damaging to their aspirations. The collective silence across football on sexism also speaks volumes about where football currently stands on the issue. We have a long way to go.

The amount of people who have piled in on the debate about a woman’s role in football, spouting sexist and misogynistic comments, is alarming. As is the lack of support from high-profile men working in football, most of whom will have female colleagues. What message does it send to women across the game, who must now question why their male co-workers have chosen to stay quiet? 

Some of the justifications for sexist comments are completely irrelevant too. So many times I’ve seen or heard men saying: “I have a daughter/I have a sister, how can I be sexist?” Well, you can. Your family connections do not make a difference to the viewpoints you share, and they certainly don’t justify anything either. If anything, those family connections should make you think twice about what you say.

At Kick It Out we know that sexism and misogyny is deeply-rooted in football, wider society - and is continuing to rise too. This season, we have already received more than double the number of sexism and misogyny reports as we had at the same point last season. And last season, there was a 400% increase compared to the previous campaign. Something needs to change to stop this worrying trend.

What recent debates have brought to light is how much work football now needs to do to better support women in the game. Whether anyone likes it or not, women will continue to excel in reporting, commentating or broadcasting roles in men’s football. We see women offer expert analysis in other sports like tennis or athletics and no one seems to have an issue. The women we now see on our TV screens are opening doors for others and inspiring the next generation. That isn’t going to stop, it’s only going to grow. Sorry guys.

Let’s also not forget that women’s football was banned for 50 years, and only reinstated in the 1970s. The swaths of incredible women who have helped to get women’s football to where it is today are inspirational. It’s going to take a lot more than this to stop women working in football. The numbers are increasing and, if anything, recent incidents have only made us more determined to amplify our collective voice further.