Former England international players turned pundits, Jill Scott MBE and Gary Neville tasted life in a different dugout as part of a Heineken social experiment entitled ‘The Social Swap’, aimed at addressing gender bias when it comes to women sharing their opinions about football on social media.
‘The Social Swap’ saw Jill and Gary secretly switch social accounts for five days to share their genuine views on matches, from the use of VAR to team rivalries and match predictions. The only catch? Jill was posting from Gary’s account, and Gary was using Jill’s account.
The experiment acted as a reminder of football’s journey to become more inclusive, with Jill’s account receiving 5 times more sexist responses compared to Gary’s when sharing similar points of view and commentary online. Example responses to the pundits’ posts during the swap illustrating gender bias:
Check out a short film of the pair discussing the experiment, including some of the sexist reactions from social media users, here.
Jill Scott MBE said: “Attitudes have definitely changed, but there’s no doubt that female fans, pundits and players still get a lot more online negativity than men due to gender bias. 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. Anyone can be a fan of sport, regardless of gender and it’s time to remember this.”
Gary Neville added: “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. By putting myself in Jill’s shoes and seeing the reaction, I have seen first-hand the uglier side of this sport that I love and want to make it clear that football is for everyone. On the pitch and online, we should treat each other with respect no matter our gender, race, sexuality or what colour shirt we’re wearing.”
In addition to using ‘The Social Swap’ to highlight the issue of gender bias in football conversations online, Heineken® is kicking off the new football season by unleashing the power of AI to help fans blow the whistle on online sexist toxicity and ensure all fans can freely share their opinions without the fear of abuse.
Thanks to Heineken’s new partnership with Arwen, thousands of football supporters will be granted free access to its AI-powered online moderation tool. The Arwen tool lets users filter negativity from their social media feeds by hiding any unwanted or offensive comments and spam. To get your free access, click on the link below:
Nabil Nasser, Global Head of Heineken Brand said: “Heineken wants to be the most inclusive sponsor in football and ‘The Social Swap’ shows not only the unfair imbalance in football fan culture but also how important it is that we all give gender bias and online toxicity the red card! As well as tackling the issue head on by calling out harmful practices, by teaming up with Arwen, we are excited to be able to be leveraging new AI technology to help fans ditch the negative noise and for this new season keep conversations about football, just about football.”
Matthew McGrory, CEO and co-founder of Arwen, added: “We’re delighted to be supporting Heineken® in this important campaign which shines a light on the sexist abuse women in football experience on social media on a daily basis. Social media users, regardless of their profile, race, gender or sexual orientation should feel empowered to use their online platforms without receiving toxic abuse. We want to help create a positive online environment where people can engage with content without fear of being abused. In short, we want to make social media social again.
“That’s why as part of this campaign with Heineken we’re inviting social media users to sign up for free access to our AI-powered online moderation tool, which allows users to filter unwanted or offensive comment and spam from their feeds.”
‘The Social Swap’ is part of a series of campaigns from Heineken’s ‘Cheers To All Fans’ UEFA sponsorship platform, which aims to level the playing field for all fans by tackling the issues that prevent them from having an enjoyable, inclusive experience.