Her Game Too is making sure soccer fandom is safe for everyone


Sports fandom can be a male-dominated space. Her Game Too is working to make it safe, open and welcoming for anyone who loves the game.

The idea was simple — a dozen women, wearing the shirts of their favorite soccer teams, holding up pieces of paper.

But it was the words written on those paper sheets in the minute-long film that drew the attention of millions and launched an international movement.

“You only go to football for male attention”

“Why don’t you just make me a sandwich?”

“You know nothing about football, you’re a woman”

Each of them an insult or demeaning comment the woman holding it had been subjected to while following soccer.

The viral video was the birth of Her Game Too, a UK-based campaign aiming to eradicate sexism in soccer and champion women in the sport.

Since its launch two years ago, 70 of the 92 Premier League and English Football League clubs in England have become campaign partners, including Liverpool, Aston Villa, Brentford, Leeds United and Fulham.

There are also more than 500 Her Game Too partner pubs in the UK, which promote their venues as safe and welcoming places for women to watch live sport, with trained staff and a dedicated line to report any incidents of sexist abuse.

Her Game Too founder Caz May is the first face seen in the video and her own experiences of following soccer inspired her to take action.

Photo Credit: Caz May
Photo Credit: Caz May /

“There have always been moments here and there, which I put down to being ‘part of it’ when you’re a woman attending matches,” she told FanSided. “From people questioning your knowledge to touching you inappropriately, there’s always been an element of sexism present but no one had really tried to fight it before. The moment for me was when we were in Covid-19 lockdown and I engaged in some banter by laughing at the result of another club on social media. I was verbally abused and a lot of the comments were to do with me being a woman and nothing to do with football.”

“People were attacking my body image as well as my gender and I was also receiving threats through direct messages. I saw plenty of Tweets similar to mine from men but they didn’t receive the same level of abuse.”

Caz stopped using social media for a while and was scared to return to games after lockdown, because some of the people abusing her online were fellow supporters of her club, Bristol Rovers.

“That was when I realized I needed to do something about it and that we needed to protect women from sexism in the game.”

She and 11 others who had shared similar experiences recorded the video and posted it online on FA Cup Final day in May 2021.

“The moment we posted the video was crazy,” Caz recalls. “We weren’t sure what the reaction was going to be and it was a huge gamble as to how it would be received. We went up to number two trending in the UK on Twitter and football clubs across the country were flooding in to show support.”

“It really was the beginning of something special.”

More than 100 volunteers are now supporting and promoting the campaign as Her Game Too Ambassadors or Advocates at clubs across the UK.

Photo Credit: Her Game Too
Photo Credit: Her Game Too /

Many of them have personally experienced sexist abuse while following soccer in person or online, or they have witnessed other females being unfairly targeted because of their gender.

Her Game Too Ambassadors and Advocates provide points of contact if anyone needs help reporting a sexist incident to a club at a game and they ensure information about reporting lines is visible at the grounds. Clubs investigate reports of incidents independently, involving police if necessary, and can take steps to remove offenders from the ground or ban them from future matches in extreme cases.

They also help to promote their clubs as female-friendly places through initiatives like supporting local girls’ grassroots soccer tournaments, providing free sanitary products in toilets at their stadiums, fundraising for local women’s charities and enabling girls attending games to have their photos taken with Her Game Too flags and photo boards.

Being intimidated by abusive comments from a large group of opposition supporters was one of several unpleasant incidents that led to 31-year-old Paige Collins joining the campaign.

The Her Game Too Ambassador for League Two Gillingham recalls: “I was a 21-year old girl walking past a pub on my way to a game when a group of 50 to 100 men started shouting ‘get your tits out’, ‘go back to the kitchen’ and ‘ginger’ at me. I felt genuinely scared and it made me so angry because they were targeting me because I was female and because of my hair color when all I was doing was going to meet my friend at a match.”

“I want women and girls to be able to go to football and not be questioned about why we’re there because we’ve got just as much right to follow the game and have opinions on it as men.”

Photo Credit: Her Game Too
Photo Credit: Her Game Too /

Sarah Aitchison has attended more than 1,500 Sutton United games, only missing two matches in 19 years — one of which was when she was giving birth. But she still gets men questioning her validity as a supporter and whether she’s only there because she’s accompanying a male fan.

The League Two club’s Her Game Too Ambassador said: “Once, in a bar, I was wearing my Sutton shirt and scarf and a guy I didn’t know asked what my connection was to the club, saying ‘I always see you at games, are you a player’s wife or what?’.

“He couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that I was as much of a fan as he was, because I was female.”

It was online abuse about Charlotte Cromarty’s opinions on soccer and the way she looked that led to her becoming Her Game Too Ambassador for National League Rochdale.

Being labeled “the ugly one” in her team of Her Game Too volunteers and receiving negative comments after posting photos of herself wearing Rochdale shirts on social media inspired the lifelong fan to campaign for change.

“Being called ugly when I’m trying to make positive changes for future generations of girls involved in football really isn’t fair and it really knocked my confidence,” she said. “Girls and women are just as entitled to express their views on football as men and shouldn’t be subjected to sexist abuse for doing so.”

More than 50 clubs showed their support for the campaign by dedicating fixtures to Her Game Too around International Women’s Day in March this year.

At some of the matches, players promoted the campaign by warming up in Her Game Too t-shirts, women involved in the clubs were celebrated in front of the crowds, all-female playlists were played and local girls joined in with half-time activities on the pitch.

Her Game Too has now expanded into other sports, with Her Game Too Rugby, Cricket and Ice Hockey being set up, and it’s grown beyond the UK into other countries.

Jennifer Ramczyk, from Illinois, set up Her Game Too USA in February last year after reading about the UK-arm of the campaign. She had mainly been subjected to sexism from men while watching soccer in bars.

“I’d be asked to explain the offside rule or they would have a surprised tone, saying ‘you know soccer?’ and my butt would get touched if I happened to be standing, so I’d always try to get to the pub early so I could guarantee I’d get a seat and could sit down,” she said.

“I knew this wasn’t isolated to me so I decided I couldn’t wait for someone else to start Her Game Too here — I needed to get the ball rolling.”

Other volunteers joined Jennifer in rolling out the campaign into grassroots and semi-professional clubs in different states and their partner clubs include DeKalb County United in Illinois, Bateaux FC Eau Claire in Wisconsin and NJ14 Soccer Club in New Jersey.

Jennifer added: “As we continue to grow and get more awareness and exposure, we’ll reach out to the MLS and other major leagues in the States. I know we will get an MLS team in the future, which will help to grow the campaign, and I’m working on getting a complete league to join us.”

In the UK, founder Caz has big aspirations for the future.

Her Game Too has so much potential and there are plenty of areas we’d like to dip into,” she said. “Education is a key focus going forwards. We’re currently piloting a partnership with a school, which we hope will kickstart our Her Game Too education program, and we’re also very keen to have Her Game Too academies one day. We want all young girls to grow up in a world where they feel valued, safe and respected.

“We want them to feel welcomed into the community of football and to remove any stereotypes that football is just for men.”

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