Ex-England captain Wayne Rooney believes including more women as referees and managers in football will have a positive effect on the game and help it evolve.
Rooney – speaking with Rob Burrow on the ex-rugby league player’s new podcast Seven – welcomed the increased presence of women in the men’s game.
He said: “The more and more females coming in, the different points of views you get, the different situations you get and I think it’s great for the game that it’s evolving because I think it needs to.
“When I was over in the MLS [Major League Soccer] the best referee we had was a female so I think that crossover is coming, which I think is great for the game.”
The Birmingham City manager highlighted Hannah Dingley, former manager of Forest Green, as an example of positive changes in football.
“We had at Forest Green the first female manager, even though it didn’t last for long, I think that was groundbreaking,” he said.
“I think once we get the first female manager in who comes in and does well I’m sure we’ll start to see more and more females in the game.”
The 38-year-old former Manchester United star was the first guest on the new BBC Sounds podcast hosted by Burrow, a former Leeds Rhinos player who suffers from Motor Neurone Disease and uses recordings of his voice and AI technology to communicate.
Rooney, a Leeds Rhinos fan, also opened up about his football career – including his struggle with alcohol.
“My release was alcohol when I was in my early 20s. I’d drink until I’d pass out,” he told Burrow, who co-host the podcast with wife Lindsey.
“I didn’t want to be around people, because sometimes you feel embarrassed.
“You feel like you’ve let people down and ultimately I didn’t know how else to deal with it.”