Heineken®’s social experiment highlights the uglier side of the beautiful game and aims to give online sexism the red card

Jill Scott and Gary Neville

Jill Scott and Gary Neville

AMSTERDAM, Sept. 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Former England international players, turned pundits Jill Scott MBE and Gary Neville tasted life in a different dugout as part of a Heineken® social experiment entitled, ‘The Social Swap’ aimed at addressing gender bias when it comes to women sharing their opinions about football on social media.

‘The Social Swap’ saw Jill and Gary secretly switch social accounts for five days to share their genuine views on matches, from the use of VAR to team rivalries and match predictions. The only catch? Jill was posting from Gary’s account, and Gary was using Jill’s account.

The experiment acted as a reminder of football’s journey to become more inclusive, with Jill’s account receiving 5 times more sexist responses compared to Gary’s when sharing similar points of view and commentary online. Example responses to the pundits’ posts during the swap illustrating gender bias:

Check out a short film of the pair discussing the experiment, including some of the sexist reactions from social media users, here.

The Social Swap – Mix of Responses

The Social Swap – Mis of Responses

Jill Scott MBE says: “Attitudes have definitely changed, but there’s no doubt that female fans, pundits and players still get a lot more online negativity than men due to gender bias. You develop a thick skin – but we shouldn’t have to. Some people have probably been left a little red-faced by this experiment but hopefully it’s reminded everyone of the need to kick gender bias out of the game for good. Anyone can be a fan of sport, regardless of gender and it’s time to remember this.”

Gary Neville says: “The heated debates and rivalries are what makes football so exhilarating. But when negativity is linked to gender, this goes too far, especially from behind a screen. By putting myself in Jill’s shoes and seeing the reaction, I have seen first-hand the uglier side of this sport that I love and want to make it clear that football is for everyone. On the pitch and online, we should treat each other with respect no matter our gender, race, sexuality or what colour shirt we’re wearing.”

In addition to using ‘The Social Swap’ to highlight the issue of gender bias in football conversations online, Heineken® is kicking off the new football season by unleashing the power of AI to help fans blow the whistle on online sexist toxicity and ensure all fans can freely share their opinions without the fear of abuse.

Thanks to Heineken®’s new partnership with Arwen, thousands of football supporters will be granted free access to its AI-powered online moderation tool1. The Arwen tool lets users filter negativity from their social media feeds by hiding any unwanted or offensive comments and spam. To get your free access1, click HERE:

Nabil Nasser, Global Head of Heineken® Brand says: “Heineken® wants to be the most inclusive sponsor in football and ‘The Social Swap’ shows not only the unfair imbalance in football fan culture but also how important it is that we all give gender bias and online toxicity the red card! As well as tackling the issue head on by calling out harmful practices, by teaming up with Arwen, we are excited to be able to be leveraging new AI technology to help fans ditch the negative noise and for this new season keep conversations about football, just about football.”

‘The Social Swap’ is part of a series of campaigns from Heineken®’s ‘Cheers To All Fans’ UEFA sponsorship platform, which aims to level the playing field for all fans by tackling the issues that prevent them from having an enjoyable, inclusive experience.

Editorial information:

  • Please find more information about Heineken’s commitment to making football more inclusive here https://fresherfootball.heineken.com/
  • Please find the high-resolution downloadable campaign images here.
  • A campaign microsite link with video and the social media moderation tool can be found here. For more information, please contact: HNKNFootball@edelman.com

HEINEKEN is the world’s most international brewer. It is the leading developer and marketer of premium beer and cider brands. Led by the Heineken® brand, the Group has a portfolio of more than 300 international, regional, local and specialty beers and ciders. We are committed to innovation, long-term brand investment, disciplined sales execution and focused cost management. Through “Brewing a Better World”, sustainability is embedded in the business.
HEINEKEN has a well-balanced geographic footprint with leadership positions in both developed and developing markets. We employ over 85,000 employees and operate breweries, malteries, cider plants and other production facilities in more than 70 countries. Heineken N.V. and Heineken Holding N.V. shares trade on the Euronext in Amsterdam. Prices for the ordinary shares may be accessed on Bloomberg under the symbols HEIA NA and HEIO NA and on Reuters under HEIN.AS and HEIO.AS. HEINEKEN has two sponsored level 1 American Depositary Receipt (ADR) programmes: Heineken N.V. (OTCQX: HEINY) and Heineken Holding N.V. (OTCQX: HKHHY).
Most recent information is available on HEINEKEN’s website: www.theHEINEKENcompany.com and follow us on Twitter via @HEINEKENCorp.

1 5,000 fans will get Free access to the service on a three-month trial. Fans interested in trialling a toxic-free social media world can sign up on a first come, first serve basis

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at:

A video accompanying this announcement is available at:

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