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Lingerie Football League to launch in UK despite sexism row, as female footballers 'fight for equality'... in hotpants

"We know this is scandalous"

By Claire Cromie

The UK's Lingerie Football League will officially launch next week - encouraging female footballers to play in hotpants and crop tops.

Talk of bringing the US game to Britain sparked an angry backlash from feminists, but league founder Gemma Hughes (23) believes it is the best way to bring sponsorship to women's football, saying she doesn't want to wait another 20 years to see female players make money.

"We know this is scandalous, we know it's controversial, but that media attention is what's going to sell tickets," she told Manchester Confidential.

 "All money made is going to be put back into women's football and to the players."

The league will launch on Wednesday, December 23 - with the first game on the rooftop of Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville's Hotel Football.

It's been more than ten years since FIFA President Sepp Blatter made his famous 'tight shorts' gaffe, saying: "Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts.

"Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men - such as playing with a lighter ball."

But he might have found an ally in Miss Hughes.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the launch, she said she wanted to let "women look like women".

"If you think of tennis, for example, they dress like women, they look like women, so we are feminising the sport.

"I believe that it can achieve commercial investment through the controversy of the word 'lingerie'.

"More people will be involved and it's breaking away from the stigma that if you play football you must be a tomboy."

This year the 2015 Women World’s Cup became the most watched football game in United States - and in the UK 2.4 million watched the England Lionesses narrowly lose to Japan in the semi-final.

The organisation says it is "fighting for gender equality".

Writing on its Facebook page it says: "At LFL UK we pride ourselves on being role models for the younger generation, we are strong and fit, not soft and skinny and we have real passion for football.

"We train properly and we are extremely ambitious, dedicated women who play good football.

"LFL UK believe that the beautiful game needs to face up to the ugly inequality of the huge gender wage gap. Women train as hard as men, women are as dedicated to the beautiful game as men so women should enjoy the same rewards.

"LFL UK plan to bring about a football revolution in the United Kingdom, by playing in lingerie. LFL UK will increase public interest in women's football so that women's teams can play to packed stadiums, just like the elite men's football teams."

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