Wednesday’s Euro 2022 opener between England and Austria at Old Trafford marked a turning point for women’s football.
Seeing a predominantly young and female crowd of almost 69,000 crammed into Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, literally highlighted the giant strides that women’s football has made in England in recent years.
But there was also something else quite noticeable to many people in England and beyond – especially once it had been shared on social media.
England fielded an all-white starting XI against Austria.
Three substitutes came into play in the 1-0 win over Austria. They were also white, leaving many women and girls of various ethnicities wondering where they all fit in at a tournament aimed at inspiring a generation.
What is the diversity of Euro 2022?
The tournament has yet to reveal numbers based on diversity and Sky Sports News has contacted all international federations of teams that have played matches so far to request this information.
But in the first round of games before the weekend, there was a noticeable lack of ethnic diversity on the pitch…
How to compare the lack of diversity of Euro 2022?
Research presented by Leon Mann MBE at ‘D-Word 4’ conference organized by the Black Sports Media Collective provides context to the England figures.
Mann revealed that Gareth Southgate’s England squad for last summer’s Men’s Euro featured 11 players – 48 per cent – of black or mixed background, while 51 per cent of Team GB athletes who made it to the Tokyo Olympics that same year were of black or mixed descent. heritage background.
According to the Black Footballers Partnership – co-founded by QPR duo Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey, former Birmingham and Derby full-back Michael Johnson and former top-flight player Eartha Pond – some 43% of Premier League players are the black.
But when it comes to the Women’s Super League, the top division of women’s football in England, the Professional Footballers’ Association revealed last week that only 29 of the WSL’s 300 players – 9.7 per cent – come from ethnic backgrounds. diverse ethnicities.
In Phil Neville’s England squad at the last Women’s World Cup, there were only two ethnically diverse players in the squad – Nikita Parris and Demi Stokes. The same two players are in Wiegman’s squad and remained unused substitutes in England’s win over Austria.
These figures are a clear reminder of the chronic problem of under-representation within the elite of women’s and women’s football.
Baroness Campbell: Real change ‘could’ take a few years
The Premier League has given the Football Association £5.25m over three years to fund a new network of Emerging Talent Centers (ETCs), which the FA say will provide high quality care to 4,200 older girls 8-16 by the end of the 2023/24 season, up from 1,722 currently.
The Football Association launched the Discover my talent sponsorship program for female players in their early teens nearly a year ago. Talk to Sky Sports News on Discover my talent days before the start of the tournament, Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, said that if they are able to make the program inclusive, the process to speed up the arrival of players from diverse ethnic backgrounds could take “a few years”.
Expanding on her desire to see real change in terms of ethnic diversity at elite level, Baroness Campbell added: “We want her to be representative of the society we live in, and so, yes, we want her to she feels and looks different.
“And that adage has been used a million times. If you can’t see it, you can’t be. We realize that.
“And it’s not just the players, we’re doing a lot to diversify our coaching staff, we’re doing a lot to diversify our refereeing staff because, again, you know, it helps people all over England. to recognize that it’s a game for everyone. It’s football for everyone. It’s not football for those who can afford it or for those who can afford it.”
sky sports recognized and began taking action to address the lack of diversity in women’s football in 2020 as part of its £30million pledge to tackle systemic racism and make a difference in communities across the Kingdom -United.
Sky Sports have worked with dozens of current and former players from diverse ethnic backgrounds and tried to give them a platform to share their stories in an attempt to capture the imagination and inspire the next generation of female footballers.
The talent has been identified and reported directly to the Football Association and clubs as part of Sky Sports’ unprecedented commitment to British South Asians in football, which has also seen us dedicate a section of our website to raising awareness of South Asians in The Game, and creating a dedicated rolling blog.
A number of elite and elite-potential players and their families have also been supported with mentorship and access to development opportunities off the pitch.
Earlier this year, Sky Sports also partnered with the country’s largest sports racing equality charity, Sporting Equals, which saw us supporting participation across the country, including designing the event ” Seeing Is Believing” for century-old west London sports club Gymkhana.
British South Asians in football
For more stories, features and videos, visit our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and the South Asians in the Game blog and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital platforms.