Members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Football have written to Under-Secretary of State for Sport Nigel Huddlestone and asked him to close the pitch-invader loophole in women’s football.
MP Tracey Crouch, who held Huddleston’s position in 2017 and 2018, shared the letter from her colleagues on Twitter.
The letter was sparked by a report from The Athletic, which found that the Football (Offences) Order, which gives the police the power to arrest spectators for offences such as invading the pitch, excludes games in the Women’s Super League.
The report came after a man ran onto the pitch during Chelsea’s clash against Juventus in the Women’s Champions League last week.
Chelsea striker Sam Kerr was given a yellow card for shoving the pitch invader over, but the Metropolitan Police later revealed he was not arrested.
It was reported the Metropolitan Police did not arrest the intruder because of the loophole in the Football (Offences) Order, with women’s football games not listed as “designated matches”.
But Telegraph Sport was later told by the Home Office that the game between Juventus and Chelsea should have counted as a designated match, as one of the teams involved had a “home ground… situated outside England and Wales”.
This still means that domestic games in women’s football are not covered by the Football (Offences) Order, resulting in the letter from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Football to Huddlestone.
“As co-captains, co-chairs, members and players of the Women’s Parliamentary Football Team and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women’s Football, we were shocked to learn that women’s football is not included within the definition of the Football (Offences) (Designation of Football Matches) Order 2004,” the letter reads.
“This means that the man who ran on to the pitch at Kingsmeadow during Chelsea Women’s Champions League tie against Juventus cannot be arrested under the legislation unless there were other aggravating factors such as assault of public indecency.
“Given the growth of the professional women’s game, this is enormously worrying.
“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 letter is signed by Crouch, Alison McGovern, Hannah Bardell, Baroness Ruth Davidson, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Kim Leadbeater, Wendy Chamberlain and Alex Davies-Jones.
The pitch invader during Chelsea’s match against Juventus has increased calls for a focus on player protection in women’s sport.
“We do have to think about player safety,” said Chelsea boss Emma Hayes. “We’ve seen in the growth of the game there is this sense of the players being more in demand.
“It should serve as a reminder to us all in our stadiums and with our stewards we’ve got to put player protection first.”