Chelsea Women’s Coach, Denounces PlayerxPlayer Relationships

The nature of relationships and specifically inter-player relationships in women’s football has come under scrutiny over the last couple of months,  and the public opinion around public relationships in women’s sports is split down the middle.

Coach Jonathan Morgan was suspended for a relationship with a player and when asked for a comment The Chelsea Women’s coach Emma Hayes immediately took a stand saying that “Player-coach relationships, they’re inappropriate,” and one could easily agree with that due to elements such as the power balance of that relationship. Hayes then continued to state, that player-player relationships were not appropriate either. 

This sent soccer fans and fellow queer girls into a frenzy, two of Hayes’s players; Jess Carter and Ann Katrin are in a romantic relationship. While Hayes took her statement back and tried to explain herself in how they could affect future dynamics of the team. Some internet users agree with her.

 Jess Carter and Ann Katrin on the field via The Guardian

This is not the first conversation of that nature that has been had in the women’s football community. The Manchester United called a meeting for players and agents to discuss the nature of relationships among players and members and the points of the meeting were further reiterated in an email sent throughout.

Polly Bancroft, responsible for strategic direction for the women’s team at United, was being proactive following a week where relationships between coaches and players or relationships between players were brought to light and became a hot topic on the internet. 

Some people have pointed out that nowhere else in the world are people fighting so hard for inter-co-worker relationships. Within the regular world, rules and boundaries are set for workplace relationships. Whether between coworkers or with their superiors.

Now we do have to admit that while soccer / or sports is a job, the caveats are different from that of a typical job.  While sport is the main part of the job, there is the element of being role models, public figures, and of course entertainers. So relationships and entanglements alike are more enticing than that of Carol from accounts and Dave from marketing. 

To add to the complexities it has only been 6 years since the sport of women’s football had become professional in the UK and, so a lot of the culture and rules in this setting are being made up as we go.  Even in the leagues’ infancy relationships and entanglements are not uncommon among women’s sports, in fact, they are increasingly common and have become a part of the overall soccer fan culture and fans have managed to meld lesbian pop culture into sports culture.

The best crossover was the infamous L WORD chart coming out of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The chart was a great way to catch up on all the player-player relationships on a global level and like the chart created by a fictional Alice  Piezekcki, all the players and the nature of their relationships with other players.

 A romance web inspired by the L Words web Screenshot via 

Romance and sport have always been linked, it is only now that queer folks are getting mainstream attention in matters of love and lust. Mainstream culture has always had a front seat into the love lives of athletes through shows such as Basketball Wives, WAGs, and the endless gossip blogs, and fan pages dedicated to the lives and wives of famous sportsmen.

Basket Ball wives promo poster via VH1

Perhaps  as the sport begins to gain traction and establish itself in the mainstream, there will be a clear set of rules and culture, that is on par with men’s sports when it comes to matters of love and relationships.

By Gugulethu Khumalo

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