During a press conference, Emma Hayes, the manager of Chelsea, voiced her opposition to the discrimination and harassment that women in football face, which she described as deeply ingrained and widespread. She made these remarks in response to controversial statements made by former footballer Joey Barton on Piers Morgan’s talk show. Barton criticized the increasing involvement of women pundits and presenters in men’s football, referring to it as part of a supposedly overly progressive agenda. Hayes, who is widely recognized as one of the most accomplished managers in the sport, addressed Barton’s remarks and emphasized her belief that male privilege continues to prevail in English football, asserting that sport remains one of the few domains where this privilege remains deeply entrenched. She emphasized the difficulties that women in the industry encounter, such as ingrained sexism and harassment, which have become accepted as normal for many women involved in football. Hayes stressed that those who have not personally faced these problems cannot fully grasp their harmful effects, especially in the era of widespread online abuse on social media.
With her extensive experience as a manager who has won six Women’s Super League titles, Hayes is knowledgeable about the challenges women face in football. She refuted statements like Barton’s, asserting that they do not withstand careful examination. By using analogies, she raised the concern of whether people would doubt the competence of a female surgeon simply because of her gender or assume that a well-traveled individual would make a skilled pilot. Hayes stressed the importance of having more women involved in football across various aspects such as media coverage, coaching, and playing. As she prepares to depart from Chelsea and assume the role of the United States women’s team coach, Hayes’ remarks bring attention to the persistent obstacles faced by women in the sport and the urgent need for equal opportunities and representation.