Football goes gender neutral with W-League rebranded as part of A-Leagues

Football goes gender neutral with W-League rebranded as part of A-Leagues

A League

Australia’s top women’s and men’s football leagues have been jointly rebranded as A-Leagues in a bid to make the game more inclusive for the competition previously known as the W-League.

Designed to promote gender equality in the game, the A-League has been rebranded as A-League Men, while the W-League has been rebranded as A-League Women. The youth competition, previously known as the Y-League, has also been changed to A-League Youth.

Danny Townsend, Managing Director of the A-League, said “it’s not men’s football, or women’s football, it’s just football”.

“We’re committed to growing the game in Australia – for everyone,” he said. “That means delivering a world-class experience on and off the pitch and inspiring the next-generation of A-Leagues superstars to fulfil their highest potential. This is just the beginning of our ambitious, long-term vision for the growth of football in Australia.”

All A-League competitions will move to unified social media channels in coming months, and a new website will soon be launched as a one-stop destination for fans of football in Australia, aimed at increasing the profile and reach of the women’s competition.

The decision from the A-League follows broader conversations in sport about how to level the playing field for women across various leagues and competitions. There has been a rise in gender-neutral language in some competitions that are working to elevate their women’s competitions.

Last week, London’s Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) amended the laws of the game, removing the term “batsman”, replacing it with the gender neutral term “batter”.  MCC currently oversees the laws of the cricket, and has many international players on its committee.

MCC’s Jamie Cox said it was about a belief that cricket is a game for everyone and the move “recognises the changing landscape of the game in modern times”.

“Use of the term ‘batter’ is a natural evolution in our shared cricketing language and the terminology has already been adopted by many of those involved in the sport,” Cox said.

Captain of the Australian women’s cricket team Meg Lanning welcomed the move, saying it shows the game is “up to date with society”. She said it was “really important in the inclusivity of the sport, putting the men’s team and women’s team of equal footing”.

Lanning has previously called on Cricket Australia to drop the W from WBBL, to put it on an equal footing with the men’s Big Bash League. Her call has so far been denied, but Cricket Australia said the conversation was ‘welcome’.

Meanwhile, in 2019, World Rugby officially declared it’s adoption of a gender neutral policy for its World Cup tournaments from 2021 onwards, and said the women’s world cup would be simply referred to as the Rugby World Cup, dropping the “women’s” from the title.

At the time, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said the change was symbolic of an ongoing commitment to advancing women’s rugby.

“Unintentional gender bias in sport is an ongoing issue. As a global sporting federation, we need to be leading from the front on the issue of equality,” he said.

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