Sunday 18 August 2019

Female footballers to take part in Soccer Aid for the first time

Rachel Yankey and Katie Chapman will play for the England team, which is co-managed by Susanna Reid and Sam Allardyce.

Female footballers are to take part in Soccer Aid for the first time (Unicef/Soccer Aid/PA)
Female footballers are to take part in Soccer Aid for the first time (Unicef/Soccer Aid/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

Women will take part in Soccer Aid for the first time this year, with four ex-professionals signing up to play in the charity match for Unicef.

Two top tier female players will feature on each team for the full 90 minutes alongside male ex-footballers and male celebrities as part of a partnership with the Football Association.

Ex-England internationals Rachel Yankey and Katie Chapman will play for the England team, which is currently comprised of the likes of Sir Mo Farah and Jamie Redknapp, and is being co-managed by Sam Allardyce and Susanna Reid.

The two female ex-footballers joining the Soccer Aid World XI squad, alongside players including Usain Bolt, Didier Drogba and Niall Horan, will be announced in the coming weeks.

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Katie Chapman will be playing for the England team (Soccer Aid/PA)

The June 16 game at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge will be monitored by Brunel University researchers, who are conducting an ongoing study for the FA into mixed adult participation in recreational football.

Yankey, who won 129 caps for England from 1997 to 2013, previously played for Arsenal and was part of the Great Britain squad for the 2012 London Olympics.

She was awarded an OBE in 2013 for services to the women’s game and is currently head coach of the London Bees.

Chapman, who made her debut for England Women in 2000 at the age of 17, is a two-time FA International Player of the Year winner.

Before retiring from international football in 2015 and from the Chelsea Ladies team last season, Chapman won 10 FA Cups, more than any other player.

As well as Sir Mo and Redknapp, Yankey and Chapman will join fellow team members including TV presenters Ben Shephard and Mark Wright, fitness expert Joe Wicks, and freestyle footballer Jeremy Lynch.

Reid – who will face off against Good Morning Britain co-star Piers Morgan, who is co-managing the Soccer Aid World XI team with Harry Redknapp – praised the move to include female footballers in the match.

She said: “Soccer Aid for Unicef is a diverse fundraising campaign off the pitch so I’m absolutely delighted that women are being represented in this year’s game.

“I’m looking forward to playing my part as co-manager for England, and scoring bragging rights over my Good Morning Britain co-presenter and Soccer Aid World XI co-manager, Piers Morgan.”

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Katie Chapman (Unicef/Soccer Aid)

FA head of women’s football Baroness Sue Campbell said: “These are exciting times for women’s football as the FA strives to double participation in the women’s game and we are seeing a huge increase in the popularity of the WSL. It will be great to showcase women’s football as part of Soccer Aid for Unicef ahead of the World Cup in the summer.

“We are delighted to be able to work with Soccer Aid for Unicef as we continue our research of mixed football. This has seen the rules changing in recent years to allow boys and girls to play mixed football together and this match will be part of our continuing research into mixed adult recreational football.”

Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt praised it as a “hugely positive step forward for football, and for girls across the world who don’t want to be told what they can or can’t do”.

“It’s right that the FA supports equality, and we must keep moving forward to make sure female athletes have all the same opportunities as men.

“Katie and Rachel are important role models for many budding female players, as well as being great advocates for Soccer Aid for Unicef.

“UK Aid will double every pound the British public donates to the appeal, meaning their generosity will go twice as far.”

Soccer Aid 2019, which will raise money for children around the world, takes place at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge on June 16. It will be broadcast live on ITV and STV.

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