Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has said she is not looking for another job after reports she is on the shortlist for the head coaching role at League One side AFC Wimbledon, which would make her the first woman to coach in the professional men’s game in England.
Hayes is one of the most successful managers in the history of the Women’s Super League. Her side are top of the WSL and are on a record-breaking run of 33 unbeaten league games.
“I am manager at Chelsea. I manage and represent elite and world class players and this for me is an amazing job I’ve spent nine years cultivating all my energy into. I’m not looking for another job,” Hayes told a news conference on Tuesday.
“I think the football world needs to wake up and recognise that women, while the game is played by a different gender, it is exactly the same sport and the qualities involved with having to manage that is exactly the same then it would be for a men’s team.
“This is not about Emma Hayes and AFC Wimbleldon. This is about football world being in a position to have a normal conversation to talk about having coaches from Asian backgrounds, from Black backgrounds in coaching rooms and not as an exception to the rule but as something as normal.”
AFC Wimbledon are 21st in League One, England’s third tier, while Hayes’ Chelsea are 2019-20 league champions, 2020 Continental Cup holders and compete in the Champions League.
When asked if the League One side could afford her, she said: “Absolutely not.”
Hayes also responded to critics of women’s football who said a move to the men’s game would be a step up for her.
“Women’s football is not a step down from anything. Women’s football in its right is something to celebrate and the quality and the achievement of all the females I represent, it is an insult to them that we talk about women’s football being a step down. The dedication and commitment that they have.”
Chelsea captain Eriksson said that while is was positive that there were rumours of a woman coaching in the men’s game, there was still a way to go for it to become a reality.
“I understand that Emma is on the market and people want to grab her. She has been doing great with results for us. We are a long way from it [a women coaching in the men’s game],” she said.
“I think it is positive that there are rumours at least.”
Eriksson added that while she understands why other teams might want Hayes, she was hopeful she would stay with Chelsea.
“I do think that no one in the team wants Emma to leave at this point,” she said.
“I think Emma is always striving for new levels. She always wants us to reach new levels in our game. She expects us to perform in everything we do. She wants to create this winning mentality.”