‘I believe in equality’ – Football Manager to introduce women’s football teams

Written By Ameé Ruszkai
Football Manager composite
Getty/Goal

“I believe in equality.” That’s the simple answer that Miles Jacobson, Football Manager’s studio director, gives when asked why the game is set to introduce women’s football teams.

The announcement was made on Thursday, with it expected to take a few years to build the database needed, meaning the change won’t happen this year.

But with Tina Keech appointed as the game’s head of women’s football research, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes supporting the move and work having already been put in over the past year, the steps are being taken in what is an exciting development for the sport.

“I love women's football and it's frustrated me over the years of how it hasn't had the respect it deserves,” Keech tells Goal. “This, from a company like FM, this is a massive statement to say, 'It's football. It's not men, it's not women, it's just football'. And we all enjoy football, you know? So why not just put it all together in one happy gaming family?

“For the gaming world to be taking it on is massive and being a women's football fan, it's just yet another big company giving two fingers up to those that say it doesn't deserve the respect.

“It does deserve the respect. It deserves the money that's going into it. We're saying to the future generations, ‘Everything is possible’.”

“Why are we announcing it now? It's so that we can actually be getting on with it a lot easier,” Jacobson adds.

“We've been doing this behind the scenes for over a year. I'm sick of having to say to people on social media, when they're asking me about it, 'when we do it, we'll do it properly'. We can now actually talk about it more.

“If we had to keep it all hidden the whole time, then it just becomes a lot more complicated and we won’t be getting the right help from the right people.

"The second part is, why haven't we done it before? And the complete honest answer is we're holding our hands up and saying we should have done. We've always taken this stance when it comes to adding women's football that we would do it when it's financially viable to do so. And it still isn't financially viable to do so.

“But without us doing this and without other people coming on board with us, without the BBC and Sky doing their [Women’s Super League] deal, without people like Goal covering women's football as they are now, we're never going to smash through this glass ceiling that's there.

“We've just put our money where our mouth is and we were wrong for not having done that before and I apologise for that, but at least we're doing something to fix that now.”

Supporting the announcement is Hayes, who is already in the game at the moment as a coach, despite it only having men’s teams.

“It's all about normalising things," Jacobson says, of her inclusion in the game. "So Emma being in there and becoming a manager of men's team was us turning around and going, This is going to happen. Get used to it’. And the fact that she gave us permission for that was absolutely incredible.

“Obviously, we've stayed in touch and carried on talking and there’s help and advice she's giving us to make this happen.”

Football Manager has also announced that it will be sponsoring Leicester City’s women’s team, just promoted to the Women's Super League, as they continue their support of the game, with deals with Watford and AFC Wimbledon already in place.

So when this does launch, what could it look like? How many leagues will be involved?

“Me and Miles have agreed that we're going for 10 [leagues]. Definitely,” Keech says. “But then there's probably another five that we're going to add and we're going to talk about, but I think that's the initial launching.

“But the long-term dream is to get all the women's leagues in there, every one of them that is around the world, to get them into the game.

“Some might say, well, there's not that many - there are loads out there and the game is only growing. The professionalism is growing so we need to go with the times.”

Football Manager news

Latest News

Christen Press - USWNT - 2021 Olympics
USWNT vs. New Zealand result: U.S. women pour on the goals, move into second place at Olympics
USWNT responds by crushing New Zealand 6-1
Alex Telles Manchester United
Telles injury blow for Man Utd ahead of new season as left-back picks up ankle problem
Telles injury blow for Man Utd ahead of new season
Emile Smith Rowe Arsenal 2021-22
'He knows the consequences' - Smith Rowe asked for Arsenal No.10 shirt, reveals Arteta
'He knows the consequences' - Smith Rowe asked for No.10
Matheus Barcelona
'They didn’t treat me as a footballer' - Barcelona blasted by Matheus Fernandes over shock contract call
Barca blasted by Fernandes over shock contract call
Barbra Banda of Zambia vs China.
Olympics Football: Zambia’s Banda 'wants to become the best in the world'
Banda: I want to become the best in the world