The English Football Association's chief executive Martin Glenn has admitted that his organisation's brand "has a problem" following the negative reaction it received earlier this week to a tweet it sent, which was perceived as being "sexist" towards the return of its Women's Football team from the World Cup.
Speaking at the annual ISBA lunch yesterday (7 July) in London, Glenn spoke about his belief that marketers must have more influence in the boardroom and that successful companies needed a marketing function in order to succeed.
He followed his speech by taking some questions from the audience and spoke to The Drum about how the organisation aimed to capitalise on the popularity of the English women's team which finished third in the World Cup in Canada, prompting them to be dubbed the 'Lionesses'.
He admitted that the movement needed to be capitalised on as "we won't get a wave like this again" and highlighted the She Can Play campaign which is running to promote women signing up to play with local teams across England and the upcoming Women's FA Cup final. He added that one of the issues in the development of women's football was participation at primary school level and empowering teachers to coach it.
He also claimed that the success of the team had raised expectations that they win the next European Championships before discussing the Twitter fallout earlier in the week, which saw the FA welcome the team back by claiming they were looking forward to playing mum again on their return.
The tweet drew an angry backlash from social media users who claimed it was a sexist remark. However, Glenn claimed that it was "taken out of context" as it summarised a press release that was sent out, but within the confines of 140 characters.
Despite this, he admitted that the reaction showed him that the FA brand "has a problem" in terms of perception.
"When you think FA typically you think old man, reactionary, blue blazer and the FA has always been a reactionary organisation so you're conditioned to cut no slack...had Apple said it, or Google, they would have been ok; people would have said that the wording was unfortunate but you knew what they meant. But the FA brand has a problem."
Glenn also called on brands to back women's football, claiming it was a "whitespace" for them to get involved.