Chelsea Ladies Football Club were established in 1992, became officially affiliated with Chelsea FC in 2004, and now, in 2018, have taken another significant step forward off the pitch in renaming themselves Chelsea FC Women.
“We believe this is an important step for the evolution of our women’s team. We are incredibly proud of their achievements to date and are fully committed to being a force for good in women and girls’ sport.”
-Bruce Buck, Chelsea FC Chairman; source: BBC
This makes Chelsea the latest women’s team in England to rebrand to a more modern name, joining the likes of Arsenal (2017) and Manchester City (2014) who have done so in recent years as well.
“This name change demonstrates the club’s desire to put women’s football at the front and centre of everything we do. Chelsea’s continued commitment to the women’s game is unwavering and this decision is something I fully support.”
-Emma Hayes, Chelsea FCW manager; source: BBC
The name change went into effect yesterday (alongside changes to social media handles and other associated properties), with the promo video above released to celebrate it. This morning, Chelsea goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl went on BBC Two to talk to Victoria Derbyshire about what this means for the club and the state of the women’s game in England.
“I’m very happy that the club has decided to take this very important step. It’s actually something that will go down in history, that we are now spoken about in an equal manner. This is something that the club wants to reach, equality, and you have to have the language to represent that as well.”
-Hedvig Lindahl; source: BBC Two
So what’s in a name? Everything.
“The use of ladies suggests a physical frailty and need for protection,” said Professor Kath Woodward a couple years ago when talking about Manchester City’s name change. ‘Women’, which was once thought to be “vulgar” is now a name “less encumbered by a long history of squeamish euphemisms,” added Professor Deborah Cameron in that same BBC article.
“The new name reflects Chelsea’s position as a leading club within the sport. It is representative of a modern view on language and equality, and is in keeping with the way our governing bodies, supporters, squad and management regard the women’s game.”
-source: Chelsea FC
When Arsenal changed their name last summer, captain Alex Scott put it quite eloquently.
“The term ‘Women’ delineates between men and women without as many stereotypes or preconceived notions and it is in keeping with modern-day thinking on equality. We are moving forward together as a club and I hope that this sends out a message that times are changing for the better.”
-Alex Scott; source: BBC
Chelsea are now moving forward as well, not just on the pitch where this season has brought unparalleled successes (domestic Double including an unbeaten league season) but off the pitch as well.