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WSL Kit Clash: Damaging the Reputation of Women's Football

Arsenal and Chelsea are two of the biggest names in women's football. Despite this, an embarrassing kit clash delayed kick-off by 30 minutes in the biggest game of the WSL season. This type of incident would never occur in the men's Premier League, so why did it in the WSL?


Chelsea hosted Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in the Women's Super League title clash on Friday night, but the game was delayed by half an hour after both teams came onto the pitch to train in white socks.


The Gunners were forced to send a staff member to the Chelsea Megastore to buy different coloured socks, as the referee would not allow the two sides to both wear white.


The FA's rules state that teams must wear colours that distinguish the two sides from each other.


Half an hour after the two teams had walked down the tunnel to prepare for the game, they finally re-emerged onto the pitch, but this time with Arsenal wearing the black socks used for Chelsea's away kit.


Due to the lengthy delay, the two London sides then had to warm up for a second time, delaying kick-off even further.


Arsenal's travelling away fans were shocked in the stands, having to witness these embarrassing scenes in the top-tier of English women's football.



When Arsenal's men's side travelled to Stamford Bridge earlier in the Premier League season, they brought red socks to wear with their home kit, as they had been made aware of the white socks clashing with Chelsea's well before the match.


Even when Chelsea's women's side travelled to the Emirates to play Arsenal in a WSL game in December, they realised the kit clash and brought blue socks to wear with their home kit.


Questions have to be asked regarding how and why not a single person realised that the same would have to be done for the Arsenal women's side for their trip to Stamford Bridge.


To add to the embarrassment, every Arsenal player was forced to wrap medical tape around the outside of their socks. This had to be done in order to cover up the Chelsea and Nike logos on the socks.



Ex-England midfielder Karen Carney, who played for both Arsenal and Chelsea during her career, said on Sky Sports "people make mistakes but the game does not need this and it's frustrating", "clearly it's a human error, a mistake, but it's embarrassing. It's embarrassing for the players and I'm frustrated. This is a massive crowd, a massive game."


The players themselves found it incredibly aggravating having to delay the match and warm up twice, with Erin Cuthbert speaking on behalf of the Chelsea players to voice their dissatisfaction and admit their frustration.


The match officials did not realise the kit clash until just moments before kick-off, sending the Arsenal staff into a last-minute panic.


Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said after the game "it's so easy to have a dig but I'm gutted" (for Arsenal's kit manager) and "if we had a change of socks then I would have put them on for us."


Ian Wright, ex Arsenal men's forward, was one of many high-profile sporting names to hit out at the commotion. He fumed over the delay as over thirty thousand supporters sat in the stadium waiting for the game to begin.


To make matters worse, fans in the stadium were not made aware of the delay until five minutes after the original kick-off time, with everyone waiting in anticipation for both sets of players to walk down the tunnel. An announcer then stated that the game was delayed for half an hour, but a reason was not given as to why, leaving fans confused and waiting, and instead listening to loud music.


Chelsea's twitter admin was making light out of the embarrassing situation, posting two tweets regarding the sock clash. The first tweet came before the game, saying 'Ready to work our socks off', and the second tweet was after Chelsea's 3-1 win, saying 'London is Blue and so are your socks'.



The delay did little to help Arsenal's mentality and preparations going into the match, as the Gunners conceded three goals in the first half of the game, and the game concluded 3-1 to the Blues.


Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall said "of course we had to deal with it from a mental and physical perspective, how we can warm up again. When you're ready to go out and play and then you have to reset."


The bizarre issue has caused backlash from fans and footballers alike, as it has damaged the reputation that women's football has been fighting so hard to build.




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