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MPs ask for 'immediate change' to football ban law to protect women's players
MPs have called for an “immediate change” to the law banning people from attending football matches as it does not cover women’s games in the same way as men’s league fixtures.
Tracey Crouch is among eight MPs who have written to Nigel Huddleston, the parliamentary under-secretary for sport, flagging the issue.
The Athletic reported on Monday that the Football (Offences) Order does not cover Women’s Super League games.
We were shocked,” the MPs wrote.
“Given the growth of the professional women’s game, this is enormously worrying.”
The Football (Offences) Order means fans who break the law can be arrested and subsequently issued with penalties that include being banned from attending matches.
The MPs’ letter continued: “We strongly urge you to consider an immediate change to the legislation to ensure that professional women’s football is listed as a designated match thus bringing parity of protection to female footballers afforded to their male counterparts.”
The topic is under the spotlight after a man invaded the pitch at Chelsea’s Women’s Champions League match against Juventus last week.
The spectator ran onto the pitch in an attempt to get a picture with Chelsea captain Magdalena Eriksson, and as he was leaving the field striker Sam Kerr was given a yellow card for barging him to the floor.
And Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said after the match: “We have seen in the growth of the game that there is this sense the players are more in demand.
“So I think it should serve as a reminder to us all and the stadiums and stewards that we have to put player protection first.”
Reports suggested the Metropolitan Police could not investigate the incident as the fixture was not a designated match under the Football (Offences) Order.
However, the Home Office said Women’s Champions League games do come under designated matches and so should be open to investigation.
A Home Office spokesperson told BBC Sport: “Football banning order legislation covers both women’s and men’s designated matches where there is a high risk of disorder, and matches in the Uefa Women’s Champions League and women’s international matches fall under its scope.
“Matches are designated based on the history of incidents and the assessment of risk. Where matches are not designated, they are subject to generic public order legislation that applies to them as well as other sporting events.”