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James McAvoy: There should be no barriers to women playing football

Soccer Aid World Eleven’s James McAvoy (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Soccer Aid World Eleven’s James McAvoy (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

James McAvoy has welcomed mixed participation in football, saying there should be no boundaries to women playing the sport.

The Scottish star will play on the World XI side at Soccer Aid for Unicef on Sunday, against an England team boasting John Terry, David Seaman and Sir Mo Farah.

The charity match will include women for the first time this year, with Katie Chapman and Rachel Yankey joining the England team, and Brazilian players Fran and Rosanna joining the World team, captained by Usain Bolt.

Soccer Aid 2019
Rachel Yankey, Susanna Reid and Katie Chapman (Unicef)

McAvoy said: “There should be no boundaries for people to do what they want to do in any part of society and we sadly have that all the way through society.

“There are class boundaries, there are glass ceilings, but sport seems to be saying no to that at the moment and that is something we should support.

“Having women on our team doesn’t feel weird, it feels natural, it feels completely ordinary.”

Soccer Aid for Unicef Media Day – Stamford Bridge
Soccer Aid World Eleven’s James McAvoy (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Westlife singer Nicky Byrne, who will play alongside McAvoy, added: “I have a little girl and it’s great that she can have role models and it’s only right we are pushing boundaries now.

“Little girls need to grow up looking to their heroes, they can be just like them, and in football it doesn’t have to be men.

“The women’s World Cup is flying at the moment, England are doing well.”

However, McAvoy revealed he will be playing with an injury on Sunday, saying: “I got wiped out by someone in their 60s at a game of football on Monday preparing for a game of football here.

“I don’t think they meant it, he had a wee glint in his eye, he came in from the right and swiped my ankle out.”

Describing Olympic champion Bolt as a team leader, he said: “He’s very tall, very evident, very visible, above the heads.

“No he’s good, he’s got a good sense of humour and is bringing such great attention to what is a fantastic charity, helping children all over the place and he’s really bringing attention to the fact that for every pound you give, the government are gong to make it two and if you give a tenner the Government will make it 20.”

Soccer Aid for Unicef will be broadcast live on ITV on June 16, starting at 6.30pm. To donate visit socceraid.org.uk

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