The popular and long-running Football Manager game series will finally feature women’s football in future editions, although the upcoming 2022 edition will not feature any women’s teams.
Sports Interactive studio director Miles Jacobson told 90min this week that while he won’t yet commit to a timescale for the addition of the women’s game in the series, it is something that Sports Interactive began laying the groundwork for 18 months ago; with motion capture work and database building already underway.
“It was just before the pandemic that we first started working on this, so really the worst possible timing. The first stage was doing a motion capture session with the Kmita twins. It was a couple of years ago that we decided to go forward, and the last 18 months we’ve really been pushing forward.”
Football Manager’s recently appointed head of women’s research Tina Keech admitted that the lack of available data in the women’s football world has been a source of frustration, but something that – as it has in the men’s game – a comprehensive Football Manager database can help to address.
“That was one of my real disappointments,” she told 90min. “There’s data out there for women’s football but when you look at it it’s not actually accurate, which frustrated me. The game’s been professional for years now, why is nobody collecting accurate data? We’re starting and we will create a good database, but it’s been a real frustration of mine that women’s football hasn’t been given the respect it deserves in that sense.”
In a blog posted on SI’s website, Jacobson added: “We have NO interest whatsoever in making a standalone women’s football version of FM.
“What we are doing is adding women’s football to FM… one sport, one game. FM players will be able to move seamlessly from managing a men’s team to a women’s team and back again. Women’s football will be a part of the living, breathing world that constitutes every one of your FM saves; that world will just be whole lot bigger and a little more varied.”
The task of adapting the game’s current framework to incorporate the women’s game will take no little time and work – from building the extensive player and club database to creating natural motions for the on-screen players, plus somewhere in the region of 3,000,000 words to be adapted and translated into the game’s 20-odd languages.
“We also know that adding women’s football to Football Manager is going to cost millions and that the short-term return it delivers will be minimal. But that’s not the point.
“There’s no hiding that there’s currently a glass ceiling for women’s football and we want to do what we can to help smash through it. We believe in equality for all and we want to be part of the solution. We want to be a part of the process that puts women’s football on an equal footing with the men’s game. We know that we’re not alone in this – the historic TV deal that Sky and the BBC recently agreed with WSL in England is proof of that – but we intend to do everything we can to get women’s football to where it deserves to be.”
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