This year’s Soccer Aid for Unicef match at Stamford Bridge will feature top female ex-professionals for the first time, with former Blue Katie Chapman confirmed to play for England alongside men’s legend Joe Cole.
Ex-England Women international Rachel Yankee will join Chapman in the game, with two more females set to be confirmed in the Soccer Aid World XI, which also features Chelsea legends Didier Drogba, Ricardo Carvalho and Michael Essien.
The Soccer Aid for Unicef match, which takes place at Stamford Bridge on Sunday 16 June, is breaking new ground by including men and women on the same pitch, working alongside the Football Association as part of an on-going study into mixed adult participation in the sport. Tickets are available now.
Former Chelsea Women captain Chapman, who also completed the London Marathon on Sunday, said: ‘This will be a really interesting match and case study in terms of mixed participation. Having only recently retired it will be great to come back to the Bridge and play in front of a full house alongside all the household names.
‘It will be particularly enjoyable to have my three children in the stands cheering us on. Rachel and I have played together before for club and country so I am hoping we will make a telling impact and see England retain the Soccer Aid for Unicef Shield.’
FA head of women’s football, Baroness Sue Campbell, added: ‘These are exciting times for women’s football as the FA strives to double participation in the women’s game and we are seeing a huge increase in the popularity of the WSL.
‘It will be great to showcase women’s football as part of Soccer Aid for Unicef ahead of the World Cup in the summer. We are delighted to be able to work with Soccer Aid for Unicef as we continue our research of mixed football. This has seen the rules changing in recent years to allow boys and girls to play mixed football together and this match will be part of our continuing research into mixed adult recreational football.’
Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt, said: ‘This is a hugely positive step forward for football, and for girls across the world who don't want to be told what they can or can't do. It’s right that the FA supports equality, and we must keep moving forward to make sure female athletes have all the same opportunities as men. Katie and Rachel are important role models for many budding female players, as well as being great advocates for Soccer Aid for Unicef. UK aid will double every pound the British public donates to the appeal, meaning their generosity will go twice as far.’