Football is the most popular sport in the UK, with the English Premier League attracting billions of viewers from across the globe each year. It is also viewed live in stadiums and grounds across England more than any other sport. In fact, in the 2018-2019 season, before any disruption from the coronavirus pandemic, the Premier League attracted a huge 14.5 million spectators across all games.
Despite the popularity of the sport, the experience of being a football fan is not wholly positive for everyone. Many women do not feel comfortable expressing their passion for the game, online or in person, as a result of sexist abuse which is still unfortunately prevalent within football. This means that female fans and women in the football industry can struggle to feel respected and appreciated.
However, a powerful campaign called Her Game Too is working hard to change this. Established in May 2021 by a group of 12 female football fans, the initiative looks to combat sexism and build a safer, more inclusive community for women in football. The project was initially started when the group of fans posted a clip to Twitter, highlighting some of the abusive comments they had received in their experience as football fans. Within the video, they expressed the need to eradicate sexism in football and to ensure that all women are properly accepted in the wider community of fans.
The Her Game Too campaign is focused on 3 key concepts- support, empowerment and progress. It aims to educate people about the issue of sexism, continue campaigning against abuse and collaborate with as many football clubs as possible to ensure that the message is heard on a large scale. It also champions all women in football- including players, staff and fans- hoping to create a community where women can feel truly welcomed, empowered and supported.
The initiative has already made significant progress in bringing about this positive change. The original video posted to Twitter has now reached over 1.9 million views, raising significant awareness for the issue. There are also now many official Her Game Too ambassadors for clubs across the country, building strong relationships between the campaign and clubs from the grassroots to professional level, implementing their important message in as many places as possible.
More and more football clubs across the country have also become official partners of Her Game Too, showing their genuine commitment to making football more inclusive for women. In February, Leeds United partnered with the campaign and dedicated their match against Manchester United to the cause, wearing shirts branded with “Her Game Too” during their pre-match warm up. Recent partnerships have also included Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, with both of these clubs announcing their collaboration with the campaign on International Women’s Day earlier this month. Partnerships with clubs like these are hugely significant in signalling a promising, long-term commitment from football clubs to tackle sexism and establish a more welcoming environment for women within the game.
Lucy Ford, one of the 12 co-founders of Her Game Too and an ambassador for Bristol Rovers, says that she is very happy with the progress made by the campaign so far, stating that “the last 10 months have been really incredible and beyond anything I could have imagined”. She adds “What we have managed to achieve, I’m so incredibly proud of”.
She also adds that there is still more work to be done to make the sport a more welcoming place, saying that “we know this is only the beginning of what we would like to achieve and we still have a long way to go to tackle the issue of sexism in football”.
With more and more football clubs partnering with this campaign and greater awareness continually being raised, the progress is certainly promising. Her Game Too is making huge steps towards building an increasingly inclusive environment for women in football and has already begun making a genuine difference in creating a stronger and more welcoming community. The campaign is set to continue this incredible work long into the future, creating a safe space for everyone to express their passion for football and ensuring that women feel supported when supporting their club.
You can learn more about the Her Game Too initiative here.