Scott and Neville swap social accounts in footie social experiment

Former England international players turned pundits, Jill Scott MBE and Gary Neville, tasted life in a different dugout as part of a Heineken social experiment entitled ‘The Social Swap’, aimed at addressing gender bias when it comes to women sharing their opinions about football on social media.

‘The Social Swap’ co-created by agencies, LePub and Edelman, saw Scott and Neville secretly switch social accounts for five days to share their genuine views on matches, from the use of VAR to team rivalries and match predictions, with Scott posting from Neville’s account, and Neville from Scott’s

The experiment acted as a reminder of football’s journey to become more inclusive, with Scott’s account receiving five times more sexist responses compared to Neville’s when sharing similar points of view and commentary online. Example responses to the pundits posts during the swap illustrating gender bias:

In addition to using ‘The Social Swap’ to highlight the issue of gender bias in football conversations online, Heineken is kicking off the new football season by using AI to help fans blow the whistle on online sexist toxicity and ensure all fans can freely share their opinions without the fear of abuse. Through a partnership with Arwen AI, 5,000 football supporters will be granted free access to its AI-powered online moderation tool for three months on a first-come, first-served basis.  The Arwen AI tool lets users filter negativity from their social media feeds by hiding any unwanted or offensive comments and spam. You can get free access here, while still available.

Jill Scott said: “Attitudes have definitely changed, but theres no doubt that female fans, pundits and players still get a lot more online negativity than men due to gender bias. You develop a thick skin – but we shouldn’t have to. Some people have probably been left a little red-faced by this experiment but hopefully its reminded everyone of the need to kick gender bias out of the game for good. Anyone can be a fan of sport, regardless of gender and it’s time to remember this.”

Gary Neville added: “The heated debates and rivalries are what makes football so exhilarating. But when negativity is linked to gender, this goes too far, especially from behind a screen. By putting myself in Jill’s shoes and seeing the reaction, I have seen first-hand the uglier side of this sport that I love and want to make it clear that football is for everyone. On the pitch and online, we should treat each other with respect no matter our gender, race, sexuality or what colour shirt we’re wearing.”

And Nabil Nasser, Global Head of Heineken Brand, said: “Heineken wants to be the most inclusive sponsor in football and The Social Swap’ shows not only the unfair imbalance in football fan culture but also how important it is that we all give gender bias and online toxicity the red card! As well as tackling the issue head on by calling out harmful practices, by teaming up with Arwen, we are excited to be able to be leveraging new AI technology to help fans ditch the negative noise and for this new season keep conversations about football, just about football.”

You can see a short film of Scott and Neville discussing the experiment, including some of the sexist reactions from social media users, here.