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‘I AM THE 12TH WOMAN’ – Eclectic mix of celebs come together to tackle gender bias in football ahead of UEFA Women’s EURO 2022

5 July 2022

One passion, one tournament and one subtle name change to a familiar football phrase that is being substituted by Heineken®

  • Ellie Taylor, Harry Redknapp, Karen Carney, Jermaine Jenas, and AJ Odudu show fans of all genders how they can show their passion and be the ‘12th Woman’ for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022
  • The unlikely group star in a new campaign from Heineken® that urges all fans of football to declare themselves the ‘12th Woman’ – starting with this summer’s UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 tournament
  • Heineken is releasing an official ‘12th Woman’ tournament t-shirt – as worn by its celebrity squad – for public sale. Fans can wear the t-shirts to show their support at home, in pubs and at UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 matches
  • All profits from the 12th Woman t-shirts will be donated to Women in Football, an NFP that supports the women’s game
  • The 12th Woman is part of a wider campaign entitled ‘Passion Knows No Gender – Cheers To All Fans’ where Heineken®  is challenging bias and promoting equality in football, on and off the pitch, across all male and female UEFA competitions.

You’d look twice if you saw them enter a pub together for the big match, so what do Ellie Taylor, Harry Redknapp, AJ Odudu, Karen Carney and Jermaine Jenas all have in common? They’re passionate fans of football and for this summer’s UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 they are all showing their support for the beautiful game by becoming the ‘12th Woman’.

This eclectic all-star squad was enlisted by Heineken®, Official Partner of UEFA Women’s Euro 2022, to be ambassadors for its new ‘12th Woman’ campaign. Throughout the tournament, Heineken is rallying fans of all genders to get behind their national teams by displaying a twist on the term usually associated with collective, passionate fan support: the 12th man.

The ‘12th Woman’ is part of an ongoing campaign by Heineken® which shines a light on bias and challenges stereotypes in football culture.

Stephanie Dexter of Heineken® commented, “For so long football culture and fandom has been influenced by the men’s game. So, while the women’s game has grown massively, a legacy of terms such as ‘man on’ and the ‘the 12th man’ continue to dominate. Meanwhile the ‘12th woman’ is relatively unheard of. We want this campaign to help close the gender phrase gap in football language, but also invite a conversation about the entrenched bias and inequality that persists across football culture.”

The ensemble of Taylor, Redknapp, Carney, Jenas, and Odudu officially issue Heineken’s invitation in a new film wherein they all declare themselves to be ‘12th Women’. In the video they bring attention to the decades-long gender imbalance in football language and encourage other fans to join the 12th Woman movement in time for the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022.

The film shows Harry at the wheel of a van as he rounds up the celebrity fans to watch a tournament match at Wembley. Along the way the famous five question the unconscious bias in football terminology before exiting the van, walking down Wembley Way and proudly revealing their t-shirts – all emblazoned with the slogan ‘I Am The 12th Woman’. But said Tees aren’t being reserved for the all-star cast – the good news for fans is that they’re being made available for public sale on Amazon for a price of £12.00 here with all profits donated to the NFP Women in Football. Throughout the tournament supporters are encouraged to wear them in a show of allegiance, wherever they may be watching the action.

Karen Carney, who played 144 times for England said ‘There are 11 women on the pitch who are giving everything to win for their country. Knowing that fans are cheering them on in the stands, at homes and in pubs across the country makes a difference and that’s why being a 12th Woman and saying it aloud really matters. Football fans’ approach to this tournament could be a major stepping-stone to real change in terms of how we all talk about football.”

Harry Redknapp said ‘When I was playing professionally it really was a man’s game – women were banned from playing football in 1921 and the Women’s Football Association wasn’t even established until 1969. Thankfully times have changed, and in a big way, and I’m really proud to be a 12th woman and to wear the T-shirt for all to see. Some people could be confused by the term the ‘12th Woman’, they might have to stop and think. But that’s the whole point, that’s what Heineken is trying to do with this campaign.”

Yvonne Harrison, CEO at Women in Football said: “We’ve been really impressed by Heineken’s commitment to addressing gender inequality in football. That’s what Women in Football is all about too, so it’s fantastic to team up with them on the 12th Woman campaign. Every action that supports our work and amplifies our message helps to level the playing field and make football a fairer and better place.”

With two-thirds of women in football having experienced gender discrimination*, Heineken® is on a mission to evolve its sponsorships in the sport by addressing harmful stereotypes which are perpetuated by an outdated footballing phrasebook. It’s time to tackle gender inequality in the beautiful game by interrogating the unconscious bias in the songs we sing, match reports we write and even the encouragement we give.

Stephanie Dexter concluded: “In its aim to be the most inclusive football sponsor, Heineken® is inviting supporters to confront the bias and promote equality. We’ve created this campaign and, with the support of our ambassadors, we hope that the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 is the first step in changing the way we think and speak about sport. We can see a future where football is just called football, no matter who is on the pitch or in the stands.”

Heineken®’s first move in correcting the gender bias in football was to address inaccurate statistics present across the internet that are often the source of the prejudice. ‘Fresher Football’ is a webpage in partnership with GOAL that provides correct responses to the most popular questions asked online about the UEFA Champions League. It includes key data and statistics on the women’s game, which are often overlooked. The aim of Fresher Football is to encourage search engines and fan sites to recognise, amend and update their current information to give accurate answers, regardless of gender.

Additional talent quotes

Jermaine Jenas, BBC presenter and former England footballer said: “The profile of the women’s game has risen massively over the past 10 to 15 years and players such as Lucy Bronze and Karen Carney have rightfully taken their places alongside some of the greats of the men’s game. But the culture and language attached to the women’s game still lags behind. Women’s football has inherited male-oriented terminology – phrases like ‘man on’, and, of course the ‘12th man’. I’m extremely proud to be part of a campaign that celebrates the women’s game and the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, but also one that addresses issues of gender inequality around our national sport.”  

Presenter AJ Odudu, said: “The brilliant thing is that anyone can be a 12th Woman. I can’t wait for the tournament to start and I can’t wait to put on my 12th Woman Tee, head to the pub and enjoy what should be a true festival of football.”

TV comedian and writer, Ellie Taylor said: “It’s not every day you get recruited by the national treasure that is Harry Redknapp to join a cohort of fabulously talented people all committed to reengineering an outdated football phrase – and celebrating the women’s game. Harry had me at hello to be honest. In all seriousness, I love watching big tournament football and I’m thrilled to be a 12th Woman. It might not be a thing, yet. But it will be”.