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A British Organization Is Hosting A Charity Game At Toyota Park— And Women Aren’t Invited

Football Aid cites English and Scottish regulations for excluding women at an American charity event

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The UK-based nonprofit organization Football Aid is hosting a charity soccer game on March 24th at Toyota Park.

According to their FAQ, Football Aid organizes charity matches in the UK, Europe, and the US. The games are organized with the cooperation of host clubs, and often with current and former players and coaches participating in some form. Fans pay for a guaranteed spot on a roster and get to play at their team’s stadium.

A few clicks around the website reveals that the games were initially organized to raise money for awareness and research related to Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. A few years ago the board of directors decided to allocate funding for other causes, although what those causes are is not specified.

The event on March 24th is apparently the organization’s first in partnership with the Chicago Fire, and offers fans an opportunity to wear the red-shirt-white-stripe combo and play on the pitch at Toyota Park. According to the press release, proceeds from the event will benefit the Chicago Fire Foundation.

At least, some fans will have that opportunity. Women will not be allowed to participate.

When confronted by Fire fans on social media, Football Aid’s canned response gave three explanations for why women weren’t allowed to participate: that regulations by the Football Association and the Scottish Football Association precluded them from organizing co-ed games (including outside the UK, apparently), that organizing a separate women’s game is too time-consuming and costly, and that there isn’t enough interest.

What a crock of shit. Right down to the “sorry for the disappointment” non-apology apology.

When Nicole Hack (@nikhak) pushed back on Football Aid’s response, they repeated their original explanation. Literally the same four tweets. (This is why you don’t skimp on your PR budgets, folks.)

As a side note: it’s unclear whether transgender, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming fans will be allowed to participate. I can only assume that people like me are SOL.

While I can’t fault the Chicago Fire Foundation for working with an outside organization on an event that will bring in some revenue— and to be clear, the CFF does excellent work— it’s disappointing to see said outside org so deliberately and unapologetically shutting out half of the club’s fanbase. It’s also disappointing that certain elements within the Fire supporter community will defend Football Aid, either because they agree on principle with favoring men in soccer fandom over other genders or just to “trigger the libs.”

Barring some massive wave of negative feedback, it’s unlikely the club or the Foundation will change its mind on hosting Football Aid’s event later this month. To that end, we’d like to suggest alternative.

Left Wing Futbol - Xícago is a local group that promotes gender and racial equality through soccer. They host rec games every month in which people of all genders and ability levels are encouraged to participate. Their big annual event, Copa Comunidad Xícago, will be held over the Memorial Day weekend. If you want to do good and support the local soccer community, this is by far a much better option than whatever sexist nonsense Football Aid is putting together.