On April 13th, 2021, Alex Scott was announced as the new Football Focus host following Dan Walker’s decision to leave the role after 12 years. The BBC’s decision to appoint the 36-year-old is a significant step forward for women in the football industry. Scott, who spent most of her career at right-back, will make history in becoming the much-loved show’s first female presenter. Although there’s a long way to go to ensure equality in sport, this appointment feels like a significant breakthrough. Because of that, let’s look at the recent rise of female hosting and punditry in football.
Scott’s History-Making Breakthrough
Don’t get it twisted, Scott has got the Football Focus job by earning it through years of hard work, research, and professionalism. Although she isn’t the first woman to break into the football world, many would argue that she’s changed the landscape regarding female football opportunities. As per the Telegraph, she first announced herself as a top-class pundit at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and received widespread praise for her tactical breakdown of France’s full-backs, Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez.
Although Scott had various media opportunities prior to the 2018 World Cup, including on Match of the Day Kickabout, the international tournament showcased her analytical talents to the world. As a player, the 36-year-old enjoyed a trophy-winning career. In making over 200 senior appearances, the London-born defender scored the winner when Arsenal Ladies won the UEFA Women’s Cup against Umea in 2007. She also lifted five Women’s Premier Leagues and seven FA Cups. Scott has reached the pinnacle of the women’s game, and nobody can doubt that she’s one of the most knowledgeable pundits of the 21st century.
Gradual Progression over Recent Years
Before the BBC appointed Scott, Sky Sports were at the forefront of providing female presenters with a platform. Over the years, numerous women have presented on Sky Sports News, including Alex Hammond, Charlotte Coleman, Georgie Thompson, Hayley McQueen, Kirsty Gallacher, and many more. Kate Abdo, who worked for the broadcaster for numerous years, left to return to CBS Sports in 2020. She now hosts their UEFA Champions League and Europa League shows, as well as covering boxing for DAZN. In 2015, Kelly Cates somewhat laid the foundations for women to present football coverage, as she became the co-host alongside George Riley for Channel 5’s Football League highlights. Since then, she’s moved to Sky Sports and regularly hosts Friday Night Football and weekend matches.
Away from real-world football, women are also starting to get more diverse hosting opportunities. In the wide-ranging library of games at Casushi, prospective players can immerse themselves in Football Studio. The real-time card game incorporates home and away features, results readings, and commentary on player performance. Like television broadcasters, the themed title also has female hosts, and that's a testament to womens' ever-growing role within the sport.
The Start of an Inclusive Future
Over the coming years, Scott will be the face of daytime football on the BBC. Moreover, in the future, it puts her in a promising position to potentially replace Gary Lineker as the Match of the Day host if the former Leicester striker opts to step down. Although such an opportunity may not arise, the fact that it’s a valid discussion shows how far the game has come. Ultimately, the future for women in football is bright.
Tagged in Football