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Emma Hayes: Attacks on female pundits are symptom of a ‘sexist society’

Emma Hayes: Attacks on female pundits are symptom of a ‘sexist society’
Emma Hayes believes there are not enough sensible conversations taking place online - Getty Images/Richard Heathcote

Emma Hayes says misogynistic comments about female pundits are symptomatic of a “sexist society” within English football.

The Chelsea Women manager, who will become the new United States women’s team head coach this summer, said the issue was “more prevalent here” compared to the US.

The 47-year-old did not reference posts specifically made by Joey Barton but was asked about the recent “noise” online regarding women working in punditry, in a month which has seen the former Fleetwood Town and Bristol Rovers manager direct a series of increasingly personal attacks on women working in football.

‘We live in a more sexist society in England [than the US]‘

Eni Aluko and Lucy Ward are both taking legal action over Barton’s social media posts about them, which included comparing them to Fred and Rose West. Aluko, who Barton also likened to Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot, says some of the abuse she had subsequently suffered had made her afraid to leave her home.

“Yes, we do, we live in a more sexist society in England [than the US] with regards to football,” Hayes said. “That’s because it’s been long-established over a longer period of time and when we were banned from the game for a long period of time.

“So many boys, men, haven’t grown up for long periods of time [seeing] girls and women in and around the game of football, let alone women’s football. Therefore, it’s understandable that their confirmation basis and their experiences and their prejudices are done in such a way, because they’re used to something, and it’s a real challenge to the norm.”

‘Sadly a little bit of social media can create a divide’

Hayes also lamented how unpleasant conversations on social media can become, adding: “If you think about lots of things in the last 10 years in this country, from Brexit, to our populism, to our division in politics, for me this is just another moment that’s escalated because sadly a little bit of social media can create such a divide in such a vitriolic way, instead of us having ‘sensible conversations’.

“Unfortunately you can’t do that [have sensible conversations online] at this moment in time.”

Hayes, meanwhile, says she will “cry her eyes out” when her 12 years in charge of Chelsea come to an end in May.

The 47-year-old, who will become the new United States women’s national team head coach at the end of the season, was speaking on the night she was the first woman to be the recipient of the Football Writers’ Association’s annual gala tribute.

Asked if she expects to have mixed emotions when she has to say farewell to Chelsea, replied: “I don’t think they’ll be mixed, I’ll be absolutely distraught. I’m a bit of a sobber. I’ll cry my eyes out for the last few weeks.

“I think I’m now at a point where I’m looking forward to being in the crowd, coming back and hopefully watching Chelsea in many finals. I’ve done my bit and I certainly hope they welcome me back as a fan because that’s how I see myself.”

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