The launch of the first ever all-female Subbuteo set has been welcomed as a “step forward for equality” – but there is disquiet that it will not be available for the public to buy.
The release of the set by the Football Association ahead of the Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley reflects the growing popularity of the game.
Fans will have the chance to win one via FA social channels in the coming months. However, it is not going on sale.
Let Toys Be Toys, which campaigns to stop toys being promoted as either only suitable for girls or only suitable for boys, called for this to change.
A spokesperson told Sky News: “An all-female Subbuteo set is a good step forward for equality but there is little point in it existing if not actually on sale
“Girls and women play football too and it would be great to see that reflected in this set being made widely available.”
The new set, which features 22 players, hand-moulded and painted in the colours of Cup finalists Arsenal and Chelsea, has been created by toymaker Hasbro.
Marzena Bogdanowicz, the FA’s head of marketing, said: “This new, all-female Subbuteo set is a reflection of the rapid growth that women’s football is seeing in the UK right now.
“We aspire to greater equality all the way from board games to boardrooms, and every day we are striving to transform the future of the women’s game on and off the pitch.”
Sophie Downey, of Girls on the Ball, which produces match reports from women’s games, said it was unfortunate that the set is not publicly available.
She said: “I think it’s a really exciting idea for Hasbro and the FA to do and gives the game a boost ahead of the big cup final.
“It shows there’s an increasing commercial appetite to get involved in the women’s game.
“But as a women’s football fan, it’s a shame they’re not available to buy as I think there is an increasing and very passionate fan base who would love their chance to purchase them.
“But I understand they may want to test it first.
“Who knows, this could make a good test ahead of a competition like the World Cup in 2019.”