Written by By Guest Writer Alicia Cabrera, CNN
Europe’s leading women’s soccer boss, Emma Hayes, has hit out at gender inequality and has accused the professional game of failing in the fight against discrimination.
“There are not enough women in positions of power in our game — or male. No, we’re being nasty, but we’re not right, we’re wrong,” she told CNN’s Paula Radcliffe in a Facebook Live interview on Monday.
“I have lots of opinions on this, I’d go further, but being nasty is quite hard. I don’t like to be insulting, I like to be up front with people.
“And we’re doing our absolute best to have more women in positions of power. But we’re not there yet.”
Hayes is the CEO of the British women’s professional football team Arsenal, and one of only two female bosses in the sport. Her comments reflect increasing frustration across the male-dominated game at the relative lack of women running high-ranking clubs.
The Football Association (FA) has said it is increasing female representation on its board from 12% to 15% by 2019. Both men and women currently sit on the committee that decides the name of England’s national team.
Hayes explained: “It was always my ambition to run a national team and quite rightly the FA were very keen for me to have the privilege to do that.
“We feel there’s something wrong, it’s nothing to do with sport; it’s simply a question of fairness and people not giving us the opportunity to say ‘Look you’re doing it for me because I was shortlisted.’ We need to give more women a chance to do it.”
A winner of a Uefa Ladies Player of the Year award, Hayles herself was just 14 years old when she began playing — despite being cut from her local team, her former school and a team that was already full.
One of only two female coaches in the English Premiership, Hayes believes she needs two to three more years in the job if she is to achieve her goal of making England’s women’s team the best in the world.
Sky Sports Sport requested interviews with the head coach and a player from three domestic sides — Arsenal, Birmingham City and Notts County — to coincide with their Women’s Champions League semi-final between Arsenal and French giants Paris Saint-Germain on Friday.
“I wouldn’t expect to be interviewed if I wasn’t English, so it’s really strange, surprising and disappointing,” said Hayes.
Birmingham City’s England Women’s captain Faye White was also featured in the story. The defender, who plays in the English Premier League for Charlton, described the lack of women involved in coaching staff, club decisions and league arrangements as “very disappointing.”
“It could work for us. We’re men and women playing the same sport, we’re able to compete at this level. It’s more of a case of what do you think? What do you think we can do?”