For Women In Football, It’s About Time We Level The Playing Field

For too long, women in football have been overlooked at best and subject to prejudice at worst. A new campaign, however, is fighting for equality.

PSG vs Lyon UEFA Women's Champions League Semi-Finals

by Emily Farquhar |

It isn’t every weekend that you get to watch a UEFA Champions League game in Paris, let alone the PSG vs Lyon semi-finals. It's a game which, this season, was set to be one of the biggest club tournaments.

One slight problem: when asked about it, no one had a clue what I was talking about. Did I miss out the detail that women were playing? Ah, yes. Should that even matter? No. But, to the general British (mostly male, I have to say) football fans? Clearly, a no brainer. I had mixed up my match dates!

Ignoring their sarcastic retorts, what they might have been interested to know is that the quarter-final game two weekends ago at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona had a record breaking 91,648 people attend the game.

For the semi-final, the Parc de Princes stadium crowd in Paris was not far off. Out of 47,939 seats, 43,255 were filled, setting a record for a women’s football club match in France.

I just so happened to be one of those lucky fans.

Situated in the Tribune Paris stand right in the centre of the pitch, I was able to sit back and watch it all unfold. And, let me tell you, the PSG fans, especially the Ultras who are the hard-core fans strategically placed in the Auteuil stand, did not disappoint.

Kicking off at 9pm local time with a 60 to 40 male to female audience split, the game had an ambience like nothing else.

With a near-full stadium and fans coming from all directions (to the point where sneaking off to the bathroom just wasn't an option), it almost felt as though I were watching the men battle it out for the UCL finals. So, why is it only now that women's football is getting the attention it deserves?

One organisation looking to address this is Heineken, the official sponsor of the UCL. It's on a mission to evolve its sponsorships to help address the uneven playing field for female footballers and fans, two-thirds of whom have experienced gender discrimination.

One of the reasons for the widespread prejudice is inaccurate statistics presented across the internet, hence why Heineken has launched a new webpage in partnership with GOAL labelled Fresher Football.

It not only challenges the algorithms and search engines to key websites (search engines like Google are biased to only present male football results), but provides the correct responses to the most popular questions asked online about the UEFA Champions League.

For example, if you search ‘How many times has Arsenal won the UCL’ it comes up with ‘zero’, but it’s actually once, all thanks to Alex Scott's winning goal for the Arsenal Women’s Champions League team in 2007.

Through buying key AdWords around leading football questions and correcting the current answers with accurate statistics based on the men’s and women’s game, Heineken wants to ensure female achievements in football are celebrated and not forgotten.

To further tackle the gender bias and inequality, Heineken has created a new digital campaign entitled, Cheers to All Fans, Men Included, highlighting the misconception that you must be a man to be a football fan.

Featuring Thierry Henry and Alex Scott, Heineken’s newest football ambassador, the campaign video The Greatest Goal takes inspiration from Scott’s goal in the UEFA Women’s Cup.

'What I love about football is that it brings people together from all walks of life. Everyone has a right to take part in the sport they love, whether they’re a fan or a player,' says Scott. 'At the end of the day, sport is sport, and no one should be left out. That’s why I’m excited to work with Heineken to challenge the stereotypes, football should be for everyone.'

For more information (non-biased of course) on the UEFA Champions League, visit FresherFootball.Heineken.com.

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