Sexism in football – “Do me a favour love”

So Sky Sports’ resident Neanderthals have been mouthing off about why women don’t know the offside rule and how we need to pipe down about sexism.


This from a pair who believe punditry extends to bellowing and drawing squiggles on an interactive whiteboard. We are not blessed with great pundits at the moment, what with them, Alan ‘opinions’ Shearer and literally Jamie Redknapp but that is another story entirely.

If Gray and Keys tore themselves away from their lovely bubble where they can get away with patronising a successful business woman they might notice an increasing number of women watching, playing and officiating the beautiful game.

It’s been mentioned elsewhere that any other official or ref (male) would not have had their CV brought up by commentators.

And as Lady Arse has pointed out if the comments were racially orientated they would be out of a job faster than you can say Ron Atkinson, ditto if they had been a Glen Hoddle-style comment on disability.

But sexism is fair game because “girls don’t have a place in the modern game love” *barked in the manner of an overweight Scotsman*

Saying that girls don’t get the offside rule, let alone a qualified official working in the highest level of football is at as offensive as previous pundit off-camera comments about tsunamis.

We all know the TV channel where the women are immaculately groomed and young and the men are invariably middle-aged, clinically obese and less than aesthetically pleasing will do sod all about this, the culpable pair will have some ‘banter’ about it next week.

[update: in the face of a media shitstorm the Shouty man and Mr Hairy Hands were suspended from Monday Night Football]

[updated update: Gray has now been sacked, presumably because a) its not the first complaint against him and b) unlike Keys he did not apologise]

As a football fan, who writes about football for a living, mixes in football orientated circles and pretty much lives and breathes the game, it doesn’t really feel like attitudes will change that quickly.

There are plenty of men who accept women at football but the ones who don’t tend to have the loudest voices, as they explain loudly at the bar just why X, Y, Z decision was wrong like some horrendous 606 phone in that you can’t switch off.

I’ve had the raised eyebrows at the gate when I say I am press, I’ve been asked to move for the real reporter, called love and pet, asked which player I’m going out with (three times, at Southport) and heard the muttered ‘banter’ from away teams when I interview the manager after a game. There was also an incident with a camera phone (ironically at a game refereed by a woman.)

It can feel fairly intimidating at an away ground being one of a handful of women there.

I can’t imagine what it is like as an official, already a target for abuse, blame and ire before the fans spot your ponytail.

Referees are under pressure like never before – one only has to listen back to another meathead (Adrian Durham) berating Graham Poll on Talksport last week to get a flavour of this armchair officiating movement. If you don’t want to listen back (and I don’t blame you) Durham barked at Poll to the point where the referee branded him ‘puerile’, I zoned out after that as Durham seemed to be making the same point over and over again, much to the bemusement of an audibly embarrassed Darren Gough.

There is no doubt that with the advent of referees’ assessors at every single game match officials are under the spotlight. You get refs who play to the rule-book – stop, starting the game and not really playing advantage. You get the nervy linos who flag for every maybe.

But you also get the no drama, no nonsense official who makes the right decision at the right time its just that unless they are on TV, in front of thousands when they make that right decision, no one really mentions it – male or female.

Its not just the women running the line or refereeing the game who seem to be facing the flack.

As one of the few girls writing about non-league it sometimes seems like I have to work harder to prove myself.

Make an assertion which the fans don’t agree with and some of them will have a go – fair enough you might not agree with me but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am wrong. Away forums have had a field day when they realise I’m a girl, because it gives them reason to pick holes in what I write because obviously girls don’t understand the game…

Nevermind the fact that other (male) reporters spell players’ names wrong, miss out key events and all that.

Now if a ref makes a decision, which has an impact on the game, I’ll point it out – last week the ref at Boston v Gloucester missed a clear handball, watched by an assessor who asked for the video footage…

It was duly mentioned in every report.

Just like Wolves v Liverpool, Gloucester v Workington had a female lino yesterday.

She did well, made a couple of good calls, nothing wildy exciting really, she was a helluva lot better than some of the officials we’ve had at Whaddon Road this season but there was nothing which made her stand out.

She didn’t even get a mention in the match report.


1 Comment

Filed under Football

One response to “Sexism in football – “Do me a favour love”

  1. Ian S

    I remember a few years ago you had a report on a Cirencester v Cinderford derby. It was feisty, there was some post match comment because you reported it like it was. For sure you criticised the ref for losing control.

    But you did not make anything over the fact it was a female ref – it was irrelevant. The ref did not have a good match. That WAS relevant.

    And yet some of the aftermath comment mentioned that you are a female footy reporter. Bizarre.

    Keep the faith.

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