Australia’s top-flight men’s and women’s football competitions, the A-League and W-League, have been collectively rebranded under the merged banner of the A-Leagues.
In a decision designed to promote gender equality and inclusivity, the A-League has been renamed A-League Men and the W-League A-League Women, with the Y-League retitled A-League Youth.
The Australian Professional Leagues said it had consulted players, coaches and fans before the reinvention, which makes football the first domestic sporting competition to formally classify its men’s competition.
Revealed on Wednesday, it will include a new website and social media channels, and is the biggest statement of intent by the APL since it took full control of the leagues from Football Australia in December 2020
“The APL is all about football – it’s not men’s football or women’s football – it’s just football,” APL managing director Danny Townsend said. “Bringing the female game up onto a level playing field with the men was something we felt really strongly about.
— A-League Men (@aleaguemen) September 28, 2021
“That means delivering a world-class experience on and off the pitch, and inspiring the next generation of A-Leagues superstars to fulfil their highest potential. This is just the beginning of our ambitious, long-term vision for the growth of football in Australia.”
The move comes amid a domestic and international conversation about how to better integrate women’s competitions into a sporting landscape in which men’s sport has been longer-established.
Earlier this year, Australian cricket captain Meg Lanning called on Cricket Australia to drop the W from WBBL to bring the branding in line with the men’s Big Bash League. At the time, CA chief executive Nick Hockley said that while he encouraged the debate “there are certainly no plans to change it”.
Last week the Marylebone Cricket Club, which owns Lord’s, amended the laws of the game to remove batsman and replace it with batter, asserting its belief that “the use of gender-neutral terminology helps reinforce cricket’s status as an inclusive game for all”.
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Sydney FC defender Ally Green said the A-Leagues rebadging served as an “important message”.
“It’s a world-leading announcement and we’re part of something really special here in Australia and in football,” she said.
“It’s just Australian football now and it’s a really important message to send to the other sports in Australia. I think they’re only going to follow and want to be on the same pedestal as us. It’s exciting that we’re one of the first in Australia and it will only progress and develop each league moving forward in the future.”
Melbourne City and Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren was also supportive of the move. “For all of us to say we’re under one umbrella is a proud moment,” Maclaren said. “Not only for me as a footballer but for everyone involved in football in Australia.”