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Emma Hayes calls women's football a 'middle-class sport' and hits out at lack of diversity

Emma Hayes calls women's football a 'middle-class sport' and hits out at lack of diversity

Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes highlighted the disparity between the men's and women's sides of the sport when it comes to diversity.

Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes believes that women’s football is “quite a middle-class sport” as she questioned the lack of diversity in the sport.

According to a study from the Professional Footballers’ Association, only 9.7 per cent of footballers in women’s football are from different ethnic backgrounds.

The 9.7 per cent is significantly dwarfed when compared with the Premier League, which features roughly 43 per cent of male players from diverse backgrounds.

The lack of diversity in women’s football has raised concerns among many in the footballing world, including England Women manager Sarina Wiegman.

Hayes, who has won five WSL titles with Chelsea Women, flagged her concerns with the lack of diverse talent coming into the women’s side of the sport compared with the men’s.

“Women’s football is quite a middle-class sport in my opinion,” she said.

“In terms of the locations, the pedigree of player, they’re often coming from suburban belts around the training grounds.

“They’re not the Alex Scotts, the Rachel Yankeys, the Anita Asantes. They’re not coming to our facilities in the same way and you’ve got to ask yourself the question: why?

“Look at the number of footballers that came out of south-east London and into the England men’s team; an unbelievable number.

“Why aren’t they in the women’s side? I often ask that question [at Chelsea]. They’re all from Surrey.


“They’re the most talented kids in Surrey. But are they the most talented kids around? I beg to differ.

“Why aren’t we going into London? Why aren’t we hosting our academies right in the heart of London?

“Who in their ivory tower has been dreaming up this prawn sandwich girls football club?”

Hayes admitted her shock at the lack of black players who were in the England Women’s 2022 Euro win, with only three making it into the squad.

The lack of diversity in the Lionesses’ Euro squad sparked a major talking point at the tournament, which included TV presenter Eilidh Barbour highlighting the issue on a live broadcast.

Hayes added: “What you have is this homogenised team, which is a fabulous team, but where’s its diversity? Where is it?”

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Emma Hayes, Womens Football, Football