25 October 2020
Sumayya Patel is a football-loving nine-year-old who dreams of playing for West Ham United in the Women’s Super League.
So when she excitedly played FIFA 21 following its recent release, you can imagine her disappointment that the only way she was able to play using female footballers was with international matches.
The World Cup-winning US Women's National Team, the Lionesses and the France women's team are all playable - but Sumayya could only play as the West Ham men’s team on her console.
Such was her upset that Sumayya felt compelled to write a letter to FIFA, which can be seen in full below. She has also launched a social media campaign #GirlsPlayToo, which has already gained the support of Inspiring Girls, Rising Girls, Goals4Girls and Stella Creasy MP.
In her letter she said: “I aspire to be a female footballer, however the lack of female role models represented in games like FIFA makes me think that women’s football is not taken seriously.”
Sumayya, who attends Wildcat sessions every Saturday, continued: “I would be grateful if you could make a women’s FIFA game including domestic teams so more girls like me can be represented in football and become whoever they want.” And Sumayya's sentiments are shared by one of the biggest names in women's football, none other than Megan Rapinoe.
The US star, a 2019 World Cup champion and Ballon d'Or winner, was named the top-rated women’s player in FIFA 21, beating the likes of Sam Kerr and Wendie Renard.
Yet Rapinoe made her last club appearance in October 2019 with her position as No 1 raising several questions in the football community about the ratings system - and she agreed!
Taking to Twitter, Rapinoe said: "Yes! I agree. I am not the best (1 of them tho) this is another example of the underinvestment, resourcing, and attention paid to women’s football. We need more games on TV, bigger budgets, and fairer coverage by the media. #equality."
For Sumayya and other young girls who aspire to be footballers, visibility matters. If you can see it, you can be it. We owe it to them to make sure that happens. #GirlsPlayToo.
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