In honour of IWD, we asked influential sports stars, managers and journalists what changes they hope to see within the game in 2016. Here’s what they told us …
“I would like more global recognition of women’s football and the strengthening of the brand to attract more viewers.”
Mina Rzouki, broadcaster and Offside Rule Podcast co-presenter
“Billie Jean King told the Fifa Women’s Conference this week that ‘a seat at the table for women in football is not enough … they need a share of the voice.’ This is the only way women in football will start to achieve gender equality.
“More diverse voices will pave the way for change – it’s academically proven. I would like to see Gianni Infantino deliver reform by putting women into decision-making roles to prove that diversity delivers from the top down.”
Anna Edwards, Sportswomen producer, Sky Sports News HQ
“This year, I would like to see more male footballers and football clubs using their media profiles to positively support a rise in attendances at the women’s games.”
Rachel Brown-Finnis, former Liverpool Ladies, Everton Ladies and England goalkeeper
“With 90 per cent of women in the football industry calling for more support – according to our latest research – WiF would like to see a radical change in football’s attitude towards women and sex discrimination.
“In order to make our national game the best it can be we cannot afford to ignore half the talent pool in this country; football needs to actively recruit female talent for men and women’s football, and improve the culture in both to allow women to achieve their full potential.”
Anna Kessel, Women in Football chair
“What I’d like to see happen is for clubs to continue to improve the links between women’s and men’s teams within clubs. Women’s football has come a long way in recent years and my only wish is that it continues. That includes more televised games, more publicity and advertising around games.
“Investments from clubs and sponsors have dramatically improved recently, allowing women to create a full-time career playing football professionally; hopefully this trend can continue to develop, which will allow more and more women to make a living from playing the sport they love.”
Stephanie Roche, Sunderland Ladies and Republic of Ireland striker
“I’d like to see the domestic game given more mainstream broadcast coverage. People have been given a taste of the women’s game via the Lionesses, so it would be great to capitalise on the interest by regularly showing FAWSL games on terrestrial TV.”
Sarah Shepherd, features editor, Sport magazine and author of Kicking Off
“I hope that the women’s game continues to develop and improve to the next level. Players are now able to make a living out of being a professional footballer, so that shows the fantastic progress the game has made. Hopefully, the game will continue to generate more media coverage and bigger attendances in order to improve it even more.”
Scott Rogers, Liverpool Ladies manager
“I’d like to see the Women’s Uefa Champions League follow the domestic season rather than the WSL Champions having to wait another season before they begin their European campaigns. The wait means that we lose some of the interest and momentum garnered in the title race as the competition doesn’t come soon enough.
“Perhaps this also means that the English domestic season/fixtures need addressing. I’d certainly like to see regular evenings/days when people know they can go and watch women’s football. More sponsors need to follow in the footsteps of Continental, SSE and BT Sport in supporting the game and recognising the value of investing in women’s sport more generally.”
Lynsey Hooper, sports broadcaster and co-founder of The Offside Rule (We Get It) Podcast
“In terms of football presentation, I’d like to see women being considered more readily for more analytical positions and hosting positions rather than just colour pieces and co-positions.”
Alison Bender, Premier League, Fox Soccer and ESPN broadcast journalist
“Women’s football is growing every year and I was proud to be part of the BBC coverage for the Euros. These girls have had to work very hard to get to where they are today. They are a credit to their profession. Let’s all help to keep raising the stature of the women’s game. I’m with you all the way.”
Micky Gray, Sunderland legend and BBC, BeIN Sport and TalkSPORT pundit
“I want the game to continue to grow and be accepted as an elite leading industry in the national sporting calendar.”
Rick Passmoor, Notts County Ladies manager
“The change I’d like to see would be more interest from a press/tabloid point of view. The social media side of things is great and so is the coverage from BT Sport and the BBC. But the daily newspaper coverage is poor by a way of fixtures, stories and match reports. That is one thing in England that hasn’t been cracked yet.
“The clubs and the FA should charge more to watch the games. Not much more, but the money being spent now by the clubs has gone through the roof. You can’t keep giving out free tickets or charging £5 to get into games, otherwise clubs won’t be able to survive unless you are backed by a Premier League team.”
Matt Beard, Boston Breakers head coach
“Changes? Quite simply I’d have to say more coverage on television of the women’s game, the more people see the more they will follow and understand, as simple as that. I’d like to see Premier League and Championship clubs having more of a relationship with women’s teams.”
Hayley McQueen, Sky Sports News anchor and The Offside Rule (We Get It) Podcast presenter
“I’d like to see greater commercial activity to help the game work towards financial sustainability.”
David Parker, Birmingham Ladies manager
“It’s time for sport broadcasters to trust female talent as anchors and panel members for coverage of major football games and tournaments. I would like to challenge the BBC and ITV to get women more heavily involved in this summer’s European Championships – not solely as reporters but as key members of the presentation team.”
Kait Borsay, sports broadcaster and co-founder of The Offside Rule (We Get It) Podcast
“What would I like to see in women’s football? First of all, participation level; so more young girls taken part at grassroots level. More engagement of fans and at the game filling out stadiums, that would be so good to see.
“The continued investment of the women’s game; it would be amazing to see WSL1 and 2 as all full-time professionals because I think that would improve the standard and I think that would have a knock-on effect for the international team. Lastly, more media coverage. Yes, these things are improving but it would be great to see them improve even more.”
Sue Smith, Doncaster Rovers Belles and England forward