• England’s Women’s manager says she sees positive signs • She says there needs to be clearer equal pay policy for men’s league
England’s women’s manager Emma Hayes believes the world of football has come a long way in terms of female representation but still has a long way to go.
Hayes, who was the first woman to lead a men’s or women’s national team in England when she took charge of Chelsea Ladies in 2013, was speaking as it was announced that José Mourinho was to become the new Chelsea manager.
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Hayes told the Guardian: “It’s a very difficult question because this is not right. Is it about equal treatment? I say no. In a sense you are not equal. You are equals in terms of access and what opportunities you have, but you are not equal when it comes to decision-making, when it comes to working.
“You have to sit down and think about that for a moment, which does not apply in football at the moment, and if you say ‘yes’ you are not going to be considered equal to a man.
“If women are going to run football we need to say ‘yes’ and that has to happen. If you look at the Fifa women’s world rankings, and men’s and women’s world rankings, you will see the disparity [in average ranking] but it gets better.
“In Chelsea Ladies, [we] have four women and it’s nowhere near equal, but they are working as hard as the men. The female game, and women in football as a whole, we have come a long way.”
Hayes said she thought players had to have a clearer policy about equality in football but it was probably the “most difficult issue you face in the men’s game”.
“In terms of level of salaries, that’s the most difficult issue you face in the men’s game because of the talk between clubs,” she said. “In terms of level of money, the women’s game makes less money, it’s on a different scale.
“We are all lucky to get a job because we are put into the same level of organisation as everybody else, but there is no formal policy, no transparent way of knowing where we stand. The best way to get that is through the grassroots level: football clubs having women in their clubs, making the women as good as the men are.
“You go into a high level of football and when you go to the interview your men are professionals and you are treated as if you’re the talented child at school. When you go to an interview with a woman you feel different, but that is OK.”
Media reaction to Hayes’s appointment at Chelsea was generally positive but there was some criticism of the timing of the announcement as the Redknapp-less Cherries had qualified for the League Cup final.
Hayes said: “I did realise that, but then I came to my senses and I knew that three years was good enough for me to change the culture of the club.
“I am now relaxed and focused, nothing is expected of me. I have a great bunch of players here. The team has been great and it’s also important because the players deserve it.
“I’m very proud of what we have achieved in three years and we’ve set some great standards. I’m looking forward to a final.”