With support for women’s football continuing to grow, the famous charity match has welcomed female players for the first time.
Summer 2019 has seen an undeniable turning point in attitudes towards women’s sport. With the BBC broadcasting every match of the Women’s World Cup, and the Lionesses claiming a lead in the group stages, there’s no better time to celebrate the talent of female players.
And to top it all off, for the first time ever, women will take the pitch for 2019’s Soccer Aid charity match, which will be broadcast live on ITV tonight Sunday 16 June at 6:30pm.
Former Lionesses Katie Chapman and Rachel Yankey will join the star-studded England team, alongside GMB presenter Susanna Reid, who is leading the team with previous England-manager Sam Allardyce.
Yankey, who has played for Arsenal and Fulham, among others, has over 126 caps for England, and was part of the Team GB squad that reached the quarter finals in the London 2012 Olympics. Katie Chapman has seen similar success: the former Chelsea player has 94 caps for England, and also happens to be a two-time winner of the FA International Player of the Year award.
For the Rest of the World, two Brazilian players Rosana Dos Santos Augusto and Francielle ‘Franzinha’ Manelo will fly the flag for women’s sport.
More than 40,000 spectators are expected to watch the match at Stamford Bridge, and millions more will watch at home – last year’s match was watched by around four million viewers.
For Yankey, the visibility of the match is what makes it so important. She famously revealed how she had her hair cut short and disguised herself as a boy in order to blend in on a boys-only football team when she was younger – and believes greater visibility of female players will help to show everyone has the right to play, no matter what their gender.
“That’s why it’s so important to have this match and the exposure it brings to show men and women playing the same game,” Yankey told the Telegraph. “It doesn’t matter what happens on the pitch, it’s about the visibility of putting people on the pitch and seeing them for what they rightfully are and that this is the pitch where everyone can play and we’re all equal.”
To donate to Soccer Aid please visit socceraid.org.uk.