Jill Scott MBE on the Future of Women’s Football and Fan Culture

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As the fan base grows bigger and bigger, how important is it for brands to lead the message on diversity and inclusion in sports? 

When I see the brand Heineken, I think about the Champions League. They’ve sponsored the men’s Champions League for over 25 years now so they are a brand that is very heavily involved in football, and I think with that responsibility on their shoulders they’ve used the platform brilliantly. 

When me and Gary Neville took part in this social (media) swap where I was trying to highlight sexism on social media, we switched platforms so that I was pretending to be Gary on his socials and he was pretending to be me on mine. The amount of sexist comments Gary was getting, messages saying, “Oh, you can tell you’re a woman” and stuff like that, but he wasn’t a woman, he was just using my platform. That really highlighted unconscious bias moments (in football). 

Now this campaign “Cheers to the hardcore fans” was something that really opened my eyes. The sexism campaign was something that I was very aware of, obviously being a female that’s grown up in a “man’s world” I was already aware of that. However with the “Hardcore fans”, I was also one of those people who always associated hardcore fans with anger, fighting, and people going to football stadiums for the wrong reasons. This campaign highlighted to me that you can be a hardcore fan if you’re just obsessed with the game. 

Young girls, young boys, elderly men, elderly women who have maybe collected every badge from every football match they’ve been to. They’re hardcore fans without that aggressive side. So, it’s been great to be involved with Heineken, I’ve enjoyed working on these campaigns.

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