At this moment in time, I felt it was important to write about sexism in football. Firstly, as women’s football has been a subject of interest personally for many years. I have been a coach in that part of the football universe on and off for a few years now and the experience provides a glimpse as to what the women’s game has to offer. Secondly, the issue of sexism within football has showed up more recently and I predict with do so time and time again.
The most recent and frankly astonishing moment where the wonderfully gifted Ada Hegerberg’s picked up the first ever women’s Ballon d’or trophy, subsequently furnishing the audience with a magnificently inspiring speech. Cue the grenade from DJ Solveig with his stunning question as to whether she can twerk?
Now the tabloids are well known for their acute flair of sensationalising the most minor of controversies, so I looked it up personally expecting a much lesser offence only to be met by the very question he asked.
When we originally thought about writing about this subject, I took some time to consider the possibility of finding a balance, but it’s simply not possible. In no realm is this in any way something that should have been asked. I also took the unusual measure of discussing the matter with the female members of our highly talented and inspiring group of writers (with great anxiety and distress), the general idea was the feeling of embarrassment and then laughing the question off.
Another example would be my native Scotland who have seen an accelerated improvement, recently peaking by reaching the World Cup for the first ever time, finishing top of their qualifying group. We are arguably the guiltiest of countries in terms of whether women should be playing in the first place, the national team only becoming an official entity governed by the SFA in 1998. The eternally grounded head coach Shelley Kerr recently spoke of her own experiences, on one occasion a photographer queried as to whether she could put on a pair of heels, a comment that brought a look of disgust and state, “I don’t know why he asked that question, he obviously missed his medication that day”.
Upon our visit to the Euro’s in 2017, following the now retired Gemma Fay’s passionate speech about how much affection she has for the national badge, she mentioned that reporters present at the pre-match conference were in single figures, which just presents a lack of value of such amazing progress.
Those are only two examples as to how problematic this subject is, a gender equality pressure group have recently claimed that complaints have grown by approximately 400%. This maybe doesn’t really show that it’s a growing problem, what it does show is that women are less afraid to voice their complaint.
A few years ago, when the Lionesses made a major impact in their visit to Canada, the FA posted an ill-advised tweet following their heroic performance, mentioning how they will soon return to being “mothers, partners and daughters”.
Outside of football there has been other questions asked, the BBC spring to mind. When the brilliant Jodie Whittaker was appointed the task of Doctor Who it was met with great applause and praise, taking another step in breaking down barriers. Unfortunately, the famous corporation shot themselves in the foot by mentioning “its time”.
My question would be, when wasn’t it time?
So overall, the margin of progress has been great, plenty of changes have been made to encourage awareness and positive change to move closer to that goal of equality, but plenty of signs to indicate there is a long road ahead to achieve that goal.