Football Manager is set to introduce women's football teams into the long-running game series, developer Sports Interactive has announced.
Players will now be able to select between women and men's teams in future versions of the game, but an official release date is yet to be announced. Tina Keech, the game's head of women's football research, told Goal: "I love women's football and it's frustrated me over the years of how it hasn't had the respect it deserves.
"This, from a company like FM, this is a massive statement to say, 'It's football. It's not men, it's not women, it's just football'. And we all enjoy football, you know? So why not just put it all together in one happy gaming family?
“For the gaming world to be taking it on is massive and being a women's football fan, it's just yet another big company giving two fingers up to those that say it doesn't deserve the respect. It does deserve the respect. It deserves the money that's going into it. We're saying to the future generations, ‘Everything is possible’.”
Miles Jacobson, Football Manager’s studio director, added: "Why are we announcing it now? It's so that we can actually be getting on with it a lot easier. We've been doing this behind the scenes for over a year. I'm sick of having to say to people on social media, when they're asking me about it, 'when we do it, we'll do it properly'. We can now actually talk about it more."
Chelsea women's manager Emma Hayes already features in the game, despite it only having men’s teams. “It's all about normalising things," Jacobson says, of her inclusion in the game. "So Emma being in there and becoming a manager of men's team was us turning around and going, This is going to happen. Get used to it’. And the fact that she gave us permission for that was absolutely incredible."
Football Manager have also announced that they will sponsor Leicester City’s women’s team, as they continue their support of the game, with deals with Watford and AFC Wimbledon already in place.