Chelsea boss Emma Hayes has slammed reports linking her with the job at AFC Wimbledon, claiming the League One club could “absolutely not” afford her.
Hayes emerged as a potential candidate for the role after Glyn Hodges left the League One club by mutual consent on Saturday, but, surprisingly, she has hit back at the suggestions she could fulfil the role and blasted the perception of women’s football as a seemingly lesser equivalent to the men’s game.
“The football world needs to recognise, while the game is played by a different gender, it’s the same sport,” she said, “The qualities involved with having to manage are exactly the same as it would be for a men’s team. We are talking about human beings.
The 44-year-old has enjoyed a distinguished career as a coach, starting out in America before taking up the post of assistant manager at Arsenal ladies in 2006.
Hayes then returned to the U.S two years later to take charge of professional side Chicago Red Stars, before landing the top job at Chelsea in 2012. She currently manages some of the top women’s players at Chelsea, including FIFA Best nominee Pernille Harder and England star Fran Kirby.
The club are currently top of the WSL and are through to the last-16 of the Champions League. Meanwhile Wimbledon find themselves in the relegation zone in 22nd place in League One.
Hayes insisted though that her gripe was not with Wimbledon, who are yet to confirm any interest or approach her about a prospective role.
“Women’s football is something to celebrate, and the quality and the achievements of all the females I represent,” said Hayes, “It’s an insult to them that we talk about women’s football being a step down, with the dedication and the commitment and the quality they have.
“When the football world is ready to adhere to the diversity codes so that BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) communities, plus women, get the opportunities in football then I’ll see that as a step forward.
“This is not a conversation about Emma Hayes and AFC Wimbledon, but we should be having larger conversations about creating opportunities across the diverse spectrum so that opportunities in the men’s game are not limited to those in the privileged positions.”
“I’m not looking for another job, I’m blessed with working with wonderful humans day in, day out.”
Finally, pressed whether she felt Wimbledon could afford her, she replied: “Absolutely not.”