Female Football Pundits – The Best Women Commentators on TV

Women’s football is very much on the up, especially in the UK. The Lionesses won the 2022 Euros on home soil in front of almost 90,000 fans, a crowd that would have been unimaginable in this country a decade ago. The women’s team then backed that up by making it to the final of the 2023 World Cup. They lost to Spain, but by making it to the final for the first time they helped maintain the momentum of women’s football in this country.

The impact of this is easy to see, with women’s football getting more media coverage than ever before and a huge number of girls now playing the sport. This is all part of a move to greater equality of opportunity in all aspects of the game. We have had female referee assistants in the men’s Premier League for some time now and in 2023 we saw the first woman referee a game in the English top flight. This is also visible in terms of the greater roles being given to women in the media, with more women than ever hosting football shows, working as pundits and commentating on games.

In this article, we take a look at the leading football pundits, using that term to encompass those who work either as hosts, studio pundits or as commentators. We also look at how their numbers compare to men in similar roles, although we do not want to open the can of worms that is any sort of culture-war debate about the rights and wrongs of women being given these jobs.

Best Female Pundits

Assessing any pundit is always going to be subjective, and whether we are looking at men or women, different fans will have their favourites. However, here are the ones we rate highest of all.

Emma Hayes

Emma Hayes
Katie Chan via Wikipedia.org

Given Hayes has long been a top-level manager she is not strictly speaking a full-time pundit. The former Chelsea boss now has perhaps the biggest job in world football, as head coach of the USA, but whenever she does work as an expert analyst she is always worth watching.

Some may find her dry and a little monotone but if you want tactical insight there are few better, irrespective of their sex. Hayes understands – and explains – complex tactics and issues around formation and structure, as well as anyone and, unlike so many more established figures, does not offer generic “analysis” that anyone who watches football regularly could proffer.

Karen Carney

Karen Carney
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport via Wikipedia.org

Solihull native, Carney, played 144 times for England and is an assured pundit who offers good insight. She works for a range of stations and is a safe pair of hands who rarely makes a mistake. Leeds United fans might not agree with this sentiment after she clashed with them – or rather they with her – over her claim that the break for the pandemic helped Leeds’ promotion bid back in 2020. However, on the whole she is well-received and a polished performer.

Laura Woods

Laura Woods
James Boyes via Wikipedia.org

Woods does not have a professional background in football but is an accomplished journalist who began as a runner with Sky Sports. She has worked on several different sports and with several stations, including as a pitch-side reporter for Sky. She is more of a host than a commentator or pundit and fronted ITV’s coverage of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The Arsenal fan keeps things simple in the studio but is famous for put-downs on X, regularly fending off unwanted attention with humour.

Gabby Logan

Gabby Logan
LEEDS 2023 via Flickr.com

Like Woods, Logan, daughter of Leeds United and Wales star, Terry Yorath, is a presenter and host who came to the job as a journalist rather than a former player (although she did represent Wales and Great Britain at gymnastics). Born in Leeds, she went to Durham uni and her first media role was with Newcastle’s Metro Radio. She initially worked with Sky Sports and then ITV but has been a BBC regular for a long time now and is one of the most popular hosts around. She fronts football coverage, as well as athletics, rugby and the Olympics, and has been one of the hosts of BBC Sports Personality of the Year for over a decade.

Rachel Brown-Finnis

Rachel Brown Finnis
joshjdss via Wikipedia.org

Goalkeeper Brown-Finnis played 82 times for England between 1997 and 2013 and spent most of her club career with Everton. Born in Burnley, she began her career with the Toffees’ rivals, Liverpool, before playing in the US for the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide and then for the Pittsburgh Panthers. She is a hugely likeable and popular pundit and commentator who has worked with both the BBC and BT Sport.

There are so many other names we could have mentioned, with lots of women now working in this part of the media. As noted, we do not want to get into any argument that uses the word “woke” or get political, but we would like to make one point in defence of women in general (in football). And that is simply to point out that most men are pretty average at the job, to say the least. It is not an easy task, especially live, and there are few (if any) male commentators, experts or pundits who are universally praised.

How Many Women Pundits Are There?

There are clearly hundreds of media roles in football, with so many games to cover each weekend during the season. The biggest matches will have two and sometimes three TV commentators, plus studio guests and a primary host, not to mention people working for the two clubs’ own TV/radio broadcasts, overseas media and various other media outlets.

But aside from the main televised matches, each and every game will have several people working to produce print, TV and radio output, including the match summarisers that the stations cut to in their live score programmes at the weekend. So suffice it to say, there are a lot of women working in these various positions but we do not have full data that covers all of that and offers a breakdown according to gender.

That said, one interesting way to consider this issue is to look at the teams used for the 2024 European Championship. ITV had Woods as their secondary presenter behind Mark Pougatch, whilst they also included Carney, Eni Aluko and officiating expert Christina Unkel among their host/pundit team. They used Connie McLaughlin as their Scotland expert, Celina Hinchcliffe to provide general news, and Pien Meulensteen as their sole female commentator. In all, therefore, out of a team of 22, there were seven women.

The BBC had a 50/50 split in terms of presenters, with Logan and Alex Scott in addition to Gary Lineker and Mark Chapman. Former England striker, Ellen White and Rachel Corsie, were their pundits, with Robyn Cowen and Vicki Sparks on comms. In total, that meant the BBC team for Euro 2024 had 6 female members out of a total of 26. Combined, this meant that 13 of 48 “pundits” (using our broad definition of the term), or 27%, were women.