Jill Scott and Gary Neville phone swap highlights football's issue with gender bias

Split image. Left image: Jill Scott. Right image: Gary Neville.
Jill Scott and Gary Neville swapped social media accounts for five days. Credit: PA

A social experiment in which Jill Scott and Gary Neville swapped social media accounts has revealed the torrent of online sexist abuse aimed at women in football.

For five days, Neville and Scott - both former England international footballers turned pundits - shared their opinions on UEFA Champions League match predictions and the use of the video assistant referee (VAR), amongst other topics, via each other's online accounts.

They then compared the responses that both accounts received, discovering that Scott was sent five times as many sexist messages than Neville.

During a clip shared by the former Manchester United defender on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, he read out several of the messages that he received while writing on Scott's account, including: "Get back in the kitchen babe."

Another read: "Seems like your brains gone missing. Best leave the football to the boys then luv."

Scott, on the other hand, received responses such as "Well said Gaz top pundit" and "Great prediction here".

The experiment, called The Social Swap, was conducted in partnership with Heineken to address gender bias when it comes to women sharing their opinions about football on social media.

Former England and Manchester City midfielder Scott said although "attitudes have definitely changed" there is "no doubt that female fans, pundits and players still get a lot more online negativity than men due to gender bias".

She added: "You develop a thick skin - but we shouldn't have to. Some people have probably been left a little red-faced by this experiment but hopefully it's reminded everyone of the need to kick gender bias out of the game for good."

Neville said the experiment had allowed him to see "first-hand the uglier side of this sport that I love".

"The heated debates and rivalries are what makes football so exhilarating. But when negativity is linked to gender, this goes too far, especially from behind a screen," he said.

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