Heineken has launched a new campaign to tackle the gender bias within football that affects both players and fans.
The mission is to tackle the uneven playing field when it comes to gender in football by addressing how female players are often treated unfairly in comparison to their male counterparts.
One step to bridging this gap involves correcting misinformation and inaccurate statistics online. To help with this, Heineken has launched a new webpage, Fresher Football, which features answers to commonly asked questions surrounding the UEFA Champions League, factoring in both men’s and women’s stats.
Sporting the tagline: “the only page where football statistics have no gender bias,” Fresher Football provides accurate information in lists including ‘players who have won the most titles’ and ‘players who have scored the most final goals’.
Sarah Bouhaddi and Conny Pohlers top these lists respectively, and many other iconic women are also celebrated for their European achievements.
Fresher Football is nudging search engines and fan sites to amend any information that is factually incorrect due to the lack of recognition of the women’s game.
Arsenal legends Alex Scott and Thierry Henry have partnered with the movement to help squash gender bias and promote a fairer and more knowledgable online space.
Scott — whose achievement of winning the Champions League with Arsenal Women in 2007 often goes unnoticed by search engines — spoke with VERSUS about the new Heineken campaign and how gender barriers have impacted women’s football over the years.
VERSUS: Tell us a little bit more about Heineken’s new campaign and your involvement.
Alex Scott: To be a part of this campaign made a lot of sense to me. It’s truly heart warming to witness the increased support and commitment for better inclusivity in the game. I’m pleased to be a part of a campaign that is designed to bring people together over sport, whilst challenging the stereotypes that exist in football.
Heineken is trying to increase inclusivity in football, starting with the gender bias that exists when it comes to statistics around football. At times, the female game is overlooked, which can be the cause of the bias. Thierry and I starred in the video ‘The Greatest Goal’ that shows just that.
People often forget that the Arsenal Women’s team have won the UEFA Champions League before!
The aim — through addressing inaccurate statistics — is to break down barriers between the men’s and women’s game. Have you seen an improvement in how women’s football is viewed over the last ten years?
I have always been a believer that everyone has a right to take part in the sport that they love, and no one should be left out.
Throughout my time being involved in football, I have certainly seen an increase in support and respect for the women’s game. Especially in the last couple of years there have been some major steps towards equality for women’s football.
Take for example the UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter Final in Barcelona. Not only was the atmosphere electric, but there was a record setting crowd there supporting those athletes which was incredible to see.
What are some key moments you can pinpoint across both your playing and presenting career that you think have shaped the way women’s football is viewed?
It would be the goal in 2007 to win the UEFA Champions League for Arsenal. It’s the biggest goal in my career and it’s wonderful to see that moment championed in the Heineken content that Thierry and I filmed for this campaign. Since moving into broadcasting, it’s been wonderful to see other women get opportunities and showcase their knowledge of the game.
Stats and analysis have become such a big part of football, how do you think the women’s game will grow by having better access to this sort of data?
With this campaign and the Fresher Football website, Heineken wants to challenge but also encourage search engines to incorporate gender-neutral data when providing an answer relating to the UEFA Champions League. These kinds of campaigns will hopefully allow more people to be aware of female athletes’ achievements, which will foster a better representation and inclusivity for women in football.
When we talk about pushing for a more equal game, do you think things like having access to stats and data in the women’s game are sometimes forgotten about?
Statistics and data from the women’s game allow those who have achieved incredible things in the sport to have their achievements recognised, regardless of gender.
For example, the fact that there are two women who have appeared in more UEFA Champions League finals than any male player, is probably not known to many people.
What was the extent of women’s stats you were aware existed during your playing days and do you wish the more analytical side of women’s football was more accessible for you and others?
I think it comes down to representation. This campaign aims to recognise everyone’s achievements in football no matter their gender. I hope that seeing men’s and women’s achievements represented equally will inspire everyone to get involved in football, no matter your gender.
How important is it that legends of the men’s game like Thierry Henry are also promoting the importance of equality?
It’s nice to see male allies that advocate to minimise bias. It’s key if we want to change people’s perceptions. An endorsement by Thierry Henry means a lot because it illustrates that we are not alone in this. We have allies that are pushing for a better representation.
“Knowing the data behind sport allows us to recognise and champion those who have accomplished so much.”
One of the incorrect online stats that Heineken has highlighted claims that Arsenal have never won the Champions League. Of course, you scored the winning goal in the 2007 final for the Gunners, how does it make you feel knowing that search engines are not factoring in womens’ achievements?
Often, gender bias in football comes from inaccurate information or data from the women’s game that has been overlooked. An example is the one you mention, but also around the top 10 goal scorers, or most
decorated players in history.
It’s so important that female players are represented as much as male players to reach equality in the game. Hopefully, campaigns like this, and sites like Fresher Football will help to increase female representation.
As a presenter, how important are stats when it comes to talking more in depth about players and teams?
Statistics allow us to analyse matches, players and teams in an impartial way and gain further insights into why certain aspects of the game are more important than they may seem. Knowing the data behind the sport also allows us to recognise and champion those who have accomplished so much in our sport.
Do you think this new campaign will help broaden the reach of women’s football and in turn, help bring in new viewers, fans and followers?
For me, this campaign is about showing that everyone has a right to take part in the sport they love, whether they’re a fan or a player. Sport is sport, and it instils such passion in so many people! Anything that tries to tackle the barriers to entry for people – any people – is exciting and well worth being involved in!