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Are female commentators a ‘breath of fresh air’… or ‘PC token gesture’?

Football fans are locked in a furious debate online about the use of female commentators on the male game after last night’s Euro 2020 success.

England’s footballers ended their 55-year wait for a major final last night – and are just 90 minutes from Euro 2020 glory after the win over Denmark in front of 65,000-plus rapturous fans at Wembley.

Many viewers at home were wowed by Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes’ commentary on the game, with some hailing her ‘a breath of fresh air.’

Meanwhile others were less impressed and suggested she was a ‘token female’ pundit on the show, with one writing: ‘Having a female commentator on football to be politically correct really annoys me. But the voice of the female one on ITV game is really annoying me.’ 

Football fans are locked in a furious debate online about the use of female commentators on the male game after last night’s Euro 2020 success (pictured, Emma Hayes on ITV last night) 

Appearing on Women’s Hour today, sports presenter Jackie Oakley praised Emma’s performance, saying that the presence of female commentators had ‘moved on so much’ in recent years.’

She said: ‘I was doing ITV coverage at the last Euros and world cup and we had Emma Hayes and BBC had Alex Scott.

‘It was seen as quite controversial – “urgh, a woman giving an opinion about football?”

‘I think it’s moved on so much since then, it’s moved on with the professionalism of the woman’s game.’

England's footballers ended their 55-year wait for a major final last night ¿ and are just 90 minutes from Euro 2020 glory after the win over Denmark in front of 65,000-plus rapturous fans at Wembley

England’s footballers ended their 55-year wait for a major final last night – and are just 90 minutes from Euro 2020 glory after the win over Denmark in front of 65,000-plus rapturous fans at Wembley

She added: ‘Emma leading Chelsea to Champion’s Legaue final was a really big deal.

‘People watching Emma now who don’t know too much about the women’s game or about Emma…she, not single-handedly, she’s educating an audience in tactics. 

‘That’s what has made people sit up and take notice.’

Jackie continued: ‘People watching football now realise it’s not a game for men anymore.  

Some were less impressed and suggested she was a 'token female' pundit on the show, dubbing her presence on screen an attempt to be 'PC'

Some were less impressed and suggested she was a ‘token female’ pundit on the show, dubbing her presence on screen an attempt to be ‘PC’ 

‘Women have vast amounts of experience since it’s become more professional. People such as Karen Carney – excellent insight as ever. And so many more as well.

‘It’s just football; women, men, pundits, ex-players. It’s just football.’

Emma also won praise from England fans after her commentary on the game last night, with one posting: ‘Emma Hayes is the best football analyst on ITV by a country mile.’

Another wrote: ‘Emma Hayes is a magnificent breath of fresh air.’

Meanwhile others were wowed by Chelsea Women's manager Emma Hayes' commentary on the game, with some hailing her 'a breath of fresh air'

Meanwhile others were wowed by Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes’ commentary on the game, with some hailing her ‘a breath of fresh air’

One added: ‘Emma Hayes is the best on commentary. Very articulate and insightful. The girl knows her stuff.’ 

Another wrote: ‘Me and my other half just spent extra time shouting “shout the f*** up at the TV. 

‘Their entire commentary was “Here’s the history of this fixture/Here’s the history of England in this tournament/England want to win” over and over.

‘Get Emma Hayes on for the final. Just Emma.’ 

Emma is just one of the female pundits joining a host of men on the ITV Euro 2020 team, which also includes Eni Aluko (left centre) and Seema Jaswal (right centre)

Emma is just one of the female pundits joining a host of men on the ITV Euro 2020 team, which also includes Eni Aluko (left centre) and Seema Jaswal (right centre)

Despite some praising the football pundit for her ‘insightful’ commentary’, others suggested she had only won her place on the team as a ‘token woman.’

One said: ”If she knew when to speak with any substance during commentary without talking out of a football manual, I would agree! Had to hit mute on her last commentary.’ 

Another wrote: ‘Do England football commentators have to shout? I loathe the beautiful game but do want England to win to keep all testerone levels high in the UK.’

Emma has often been dubbed ‘the female Brian Clough’ because of her success managing Chelsea Women’s team. 

Emma, the manager of Chelsea Women, lifts the Barclays FA Women's Super League trophy after the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Chelsea Women and Reading Women at Kingsmeadow

Emma, the manager of Chelsea Women, lifts the Barclays FA Women’s Super League trophy after the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Chelsea Women and Reading Women at Kingsmeadow

Hayes had success as manager of American clubs Long Island Riders and Iona College before joining Akers’ coaching staff in 2006. 

She returned to the States in 2008 for a brief spell with Chicago Red Stars before landing the Chelsea job in 2012. 

She took over at Chelsea when the club had barely been able to provide training kits for its women’s team. 

Players had relied on the help of John Terry when their budget was cut in 2009, before Hayes arrived three years later. 

Much has changed since she told chairman Bruce Buck in 2013 that she could take the club to the Champions League final, if she was provided with the right resources. Eight years later, there they were.

In May, Emma’s team made history by reaching their first-ever Champions League final, where they lost 4–0 to Barcelona. 

A clip of Hayes with ITV commentator Ian Wright went viral last night as they danced and jumped for joy as England scored two goals against rivals Denmark.


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