Football fans watching the BBC’s coverage of England and Scotland’s World Cup opener expressed their surprise and delight at the unusual sight of an all-female punditry team.
The BBC One coverage was hosted by Gabby Logan, with punditry for the home nations’ first match provided by former Lionesses defender Alex Scott, ex-USA goalkeeper Hope Solo and Scotland’s most-capped player Gemma Fay.
While both of the in-match commentary team were male, the response online proved how rare the occurrence of a fully-female presenting team is in sports coverage.
British Olympic hockey player Samantha Quek tweeted: “Has there ever been a more beautiful and competent presenting and punditry team?”
Journalist Vonny LeClerc posted: “I feel quite emotional watching four women doing the half time analysis. I’ve waited my whole life for this.”
Cricket coach and scorer Julia Farman tweeted: “Loving the all female pundits for the @FIFAWWC – absolute legends too!”
Heather Dempsey wrote: “Watching #Lionesses win, on BBC 1, with commentary by all-female pundits. My sturdy centre-back seven-year-old self – playing my heart out every week, barely passed to by the boys, never picked for weekend matches by the coaches – needed this. It means a lot
And Jenny Niven posted: “So my kids don’t think there’s anything unusual at all about watching @scotlandnt at the freakin WORLD CUP on the telly, with four women commentating, and that is AWESOME.”
However, some critics described the decision not to include any men on the punditry team as “sexist”.
Rebekah Vardy, wife of former England men’s team striker Jamie Vardy, appeared to be among them, tweeting: “Umm what happened to equality….”
Some offensive jokes and memes also circulated during the game, including one image of the women superimposed with irons, laundry baskets and a vacuum cleaner.
The BBC’s television team for the tournament features several female ex-players, as well as ex-Premier League striker Dion Dublin and male commentator Jonathan Pearce.
All 52 matches from the tournament will be shown live across the BBC’s broadcast and online platforms.
England won the tie on Sunday afternoon 2-1 thanks to goals from Nikita Parris and Ellen White, with Claire Emslie’s late goal not enough to claw back a point for Scotland.
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