Chelsea manager Emma Hayes says women are “routinely used to dealing with systemic misogyny and bullying” in football.
It follows comments ex-footballer Joey Barton made on X criticising women working in the men’s game.
Barton, 41, said women “should not be talking with any kind of authority” about men’s football.
“The realities are male privilege has always been at the centre of football in this country,” Hayes said.
“I feel that sport is the last place in society where that male privilege exists.”
When asked about Barton’s comments in a news conference on Friday, Hayes did not name the former Manchester City and QPR player directly.
“I don’t expect any individual to understand their privilege. Nonetheless you only have to see scores of women across the internet or in the business – whether that’s coaches, presenters, players – we’re routinely used to dealing with systemic misogyny, bullying and behaviour that has been pretty normal for a large part of the football public.”
Hayes, who is set to leave Chelsea at the end of the season and become the United States women’s national team head coach, has been in charge of the Blues since 2012 and guided them to six Women’s Super League titles.
She has also worked as a pundit across men’s and women’s football, including for ITV at the men’s Euros in 2021.
“If you haven’t experienced systemic misogyny, like lots of us have, you can’t for one moment understand how detrimental some of these conversations are knowing that anything anyone says just enables an absolute pile on, particularly on social media,” she said.
“When it comes to the sport of football in this case, we have to remember that society isn’t always as well represented across the media or across the game in coaching or playing.”
Last month, Barton, who was sacked as Bristol Rovers manager in October, was criticised for describing the racist murder of teenager Anthony Walker as a “scrap” .
His brother Michael Barton was 17 when he was jailed for life alongside his cousin Paul Taylor in the 2005 killing of the 18-year-old with an ice axe.
In October 2022, Barton was cleared of assaulting his wife after a judge ruled he could not have a fair trial.
Barton has been criticised by fans and women in the industry, including TNT Sports presenter Laura Woods, who said his comments “encourage a pile on for the women getting on with their jobs”.
Speaking on Piers Morgan’s TalkTV show on Thursday, he said the use of female pundits and presenters in men’s football was part of a “woke agenda”.
Hayes added that she wanted to “accentuate the positive contributions” of women in sport and highlighted that females working in other professions would not face the same scrutiny.
“We wouldn’t go into a hospital and have a female physician who’s carrying out a surgical procedure on someone’s kidney – we wouldn’t turn around and say to that surgeon ‘I hope she’s a good patient because being a good patient means you’re going to be a good doctor’.
“It’s the same about being a great banker – does that mean you have to be a frugal spender to be a good banker?
“Much in the same way, do you have to be a well-travelled passenger to be a good pilot?”
Hayes said that it is an “interesting debate” but one that could be “done better or in another way”.