Sexism in football: it seems anyone can get away with anything.

By Tony Attwood

What is it with senior football men, and women?

As we all remember, in 2011, the ludicrous Sky Sports pair of Richard Keys and Andy Gray were eventually forced to resign after they made a whole serious of sexist comments about women.

BT Sport obviously didn’t think the affair was too important because in February 2014, to their eternal shame, the station brought back Gray as a pundit with the channel.

Now I am sure that sexist commentaries are commonplace among some men (although not among my own circle of friends).  But Grays and Keys were commentators on TV – indeed Gray has continued to work for TV stations that show UK football to English audiences in north Africa.   As such he really should know better than the sing “get your tits out” etc etc at a game.

Now, just as I’m sorting out attendance at the Women’s Cup Final (which fortunately for me this year is being played not too far from where I live – and which of course is between Arsenal Ladies and Everton) – we have yet more stupid boorish behaviour we have Richard Scudamore telling sexist jokes.

And the response of the FA is to do … nothing, because the communication was in a private email and isn’t really their responsibility.

OK, privacy is one thing, but it isn’t everything.  At one time I was a university lecturer, and let’s imagine I had made highly sexist disparaging remarks about female lecturers in letters or emails.  I am fairly sure I would have been strongly disciplined, and warned about my future conduct.  The defence that these were private would not have been of any use to me I am sure.  Indeed I can say for certain if any of my male colleagues ever did such a thing within the company I run they were be given a very severe formal warning, and told that one further incident of that sort and they would be out.

The FA general secretary Alex Horne really let rip (I’m being cynical here), saying, “It is important I communicate to all staff how disappointed all of us are in the tone and nature of the content of these emails which we believe is totally inappropriate.  Richard is not an employee of the FA and the matter is one for the Premier League to address considering their respective policies. The issue is something we will continue to monitor.”

Oh really!  “Disappointed”.  “Monitor”.  Come on – this is a guy who has a special place in football and holds an office which is of significance in the UK.  And all we can say is “disappointed.”   “Demand strong and immediate action from the League” is more in keeping with what should have been said.

I don’t particularly enjoy it if people around me at Arsenal make sexist comments (although actually that is very unusual these days) but I wouldn’t do anything about it.  Same in the pub.  I don’t act because I don’t think such comments (unlike homophobic and racist comments) are illegal.

But Gray, Keys, Scudamore – these are public figures with different responsibilities and legality is not the issue here.

As for the Premier League – they have basically done nothing (other than saying that a process is underway) while allowing Scudamore to use the “private emails exchanged between colleagues and friends of many years” excuse and saying that they “should not have been accessed by the temporary employee”.

That is rather like Man City fans defending the fact that their club has failed FFP by talking about the price of season tickets at Arsenal.

Meanwhile a meeting of the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board has been called for next week by the board’s chair, the independent FA board member Heather Rabbatts..  But… Rabbatts has confirmed that Scudamore had not been in breach of FA rules.

In fact it is starting to look like he hasn’t broken any rules.   Given that Scudamore has run the PL for something like 15 years one might hope he would have learned a thing or two about holding this type of office, but it seems not, presumably because he has learned that he can get away with this sort of thing as much as he wants.

Sexism is rampant in and around football, and it really should not be.  Most of our society has moved away from the notion of treating women differently from men, and sexism is being placed alongside racism and homophobia.  However with clubs and the police still often failing to take action on homophobia, (I refer you to my many earlier pieces on this) it seems we have still got such a long way to go.

The Books



27 Replies to “Sexism in football: it seems anyone can get away with anything.”

  1. It was a private message that broke no law, apart from perhaps bad taste, and would/should have remained private were it not for an unscrupulous temp! He didn’t make the comment in public or to an amassed group of premier league attendees and certainly has no impact on his role of bringing £billions in English football.
    I’m sure every bloke has at some time made a sexist comment/joke )anyone who says no is a liar!) and has private correspondence that they wish to remain so?

  2. He says these were private emails, so what?? Does it make it right if I exchange racist emails with my colleagues? Does that not mean I’m racist because I was communicating with my colleagues in private? Whether I say such a comment in private or public does not matter, what matters is it shows my views about the issue under discussion, more.precisely if I’m sexist or racist. And he was using his work email account anyway, so the excuse it was a private discussion is ludicrous. If I did that at my place of work I’d be sacked on the spot. He should have used his Gmail or yahoo account if he wants to use that excuse. Anyway, as the article says, he will get away with it.

  3. He should be judged on merit, if he emailed sexist language, he should go, if he is innocent, we still need to maintain a watching brief, there is something not right about the league under his tenure….unless you happen to be involved with certain clubs.
    People with that level of influence and authority do not nieces secretly have to break rules to lose their authority, moral high ground and even remit.
    He deserves a fair hearing but if he really does makes sexist remarks even in private, he should go. Will read the link to the Manchester Guardian now!

  4. BT ought to be ashamed to use “Thicko Gray” on its channel.
    Before his righteous departure from our screens, he was the most nauseous of pundits, only able to formulate an opinion by the aid of computer images.
    The sooner BT gets rid of the cocky creep the better.

  5. GB901 – sorry I thought I had explained my point of view on that. I think there are different rules depending on the nature and status of the job you hold.

  6. Brickfields I got a score of 38. And I can find myself in what they say about that.

  7. I think the fact that he used his company mail address to do this is what makes the difference.
    When I use my private mail address I can spout what I want in a way and the only person that will look bad about it will be me.
    But I am sure that if I would use the mail address from my company where I get an automatically and complete mention of my name and function in the company things get different.
    Because if I would use that to spout bullshit then I drag the company in my bullshit and they will not like that at all.
    Now I am but a small fish in my company but if you are the boss of the company… then you have to be extra careful. And even more when you have a more or less public function. And even more when you are a lawyer and so you should know what is right or wrong.

    But the way the rest of the football world doesn’t seem to bothered about it and is not really making sounds that might point at wanting him out could mean two things: or they are also sexist or the person involved is so powerful that he can do what he likes. An untouchable…

  8. Walter , I ‘ve just got an idea ….what if we come up with a set of questions to find out what sort of Arsenal fan we all are ? I’m sure someone like Don could easily frame the questions and Gord could tabulate them .
    We’d know whether the glass is half full, half empty , broken , stolen , defiled or if there’s good wine in it to still drink from !
    I’m so glad to have found a purpose for this close season . Especially as the WC bores me .

  9. Well two things here. I don’t think you can argue it’s a private conversation when you use your work e-mail to propagate them, including sending them to other people than intended. I don’t know the legal aspect, but morally, to me those things are different. Walter already outlined this point.

    The other point is that I would like to draw attention to the ongoing racism saga in the NBA. The owner of the LA Clippers, Sterling (I forget his first name) is the longest serving owner in the NBA, some 30 odd years. He’s an 80 year old man (and hence grew up in the era before the Civil Rights Movement) who while speaking to his girlfriend on the phone, said things like ‘don’t bring black people to my games’. This was recorded (by her I think) and was aired by the media.

    As far as I know, racist speech isn’t a crime in the US (hate crime is, but the first amendment I think covers all forms of speech), there are mitigating factors of his age and the time he grew up in and that it was an entirely private conversation recorded without his knowledge. So what did the NBA do? Carried out a swift investigation, fined him $2.5m, and banned him for life from involvement in any NBA capacity. They are currently trying to force a sale of his franchise (which apparently is provided for in their constitution)

    To me, that contrast shows the level of professionalism and of a commitment to fairness and equality, over and above just lip service which we, as consumers of their product, should expect from the Premier League and FA.

    I have no problem with people making sexist jokes or whatever. I’m not easily offended by such things. But I want a professional organisation to run the sport that I like watching. This and the refereeing problems aren’t entirely unrelated in the sense that despite the tons of money and contracts saying they are professional, it is not run professionally.

  10. Richard Scudamore’s alleged sexist e-mails are going to be reviewed and assessed by an audit and remuneration committee consisting of four “WHITE MALE” panelists.

    Bruce Buck from Chelsea, David Gill former Man Utd chief executive, Peter Coats Chairman of both Stoke City and betting company Bet365 and the so-called independent member John Williams, who happens to be on the PGMOB.

    Certainly appears no conflict of interests there then (Cough cough).

    You couldn’t make it up. Complete sham.

  11. Shard/Walter
    I couldn’t have said it any better; if you use company email what you say is not private.
    The NBA’s response to the sterling saga is refreshing. But then again, the NBA is a truly professional body while the FA/PL are run by clowns and so out of touch it’s unbelievable. If only we could have half the rules in the NBA introduced into our game that would be like a revolution.

  12. AL

    The NBA once fined Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban $100,000 for speaking about LeBron James and how he’d like to have him at Dallas, when he was still under contract at Cleveland (but about to be a free agent)

    Could you ever think of FIFA, Uefa or the FA ever doing anything of the sort to prevent tapping up, which is supposedly against the rules?

    The League has come a long way in the past 10 years, but I’m afraid they still run like an old boys network more than like a professional business(See Tasos’ post above). Maybe in time that’ll change because more and more clubs are starting to run like proper businesses, and they might well force a change in culture.

  13. @shard – well put. I particularly like your last paragraph. Freedom of speech and humour must have creative licence without excess.

  14. to be honest in my private life I am very rarely offended by anything 🙂 Keep sending those jokes 🙂

  15. Not sure if I have posted this before .

    A NUN AT HOOTERS – This is clean and cute.

    A nun, badly needing to use to the restroom, walked into a local Hooters.
    The place was hopping with music and loud conversation and every once in a while ‘the lights would turn off.’

    Each time the lights would go out, the place would erupt into cheers.
    However, when the revelers saw the nun, the room went dead silent. She walked up to the bartender, and asked, ‘May I please use the restroom?

    The bartender replied, ‘OK, but I should warn you that there is a statue of a naked man in there wearing only a fig leaf.’
    ‘Well, in that case, I’ll just look the other way,’ said the nun.

    So the bartender showed the nun to the back of the restaurant.
    After a few minutes, she came back out, and the whole place stopped just long enough to give the nun a loud round of applause.
    She went to the bartender and said, ‘Sir, I don’t understand. Why did they applaud for me just because I went to the restroom?’

    ‘Well, now they know you’re one of us,’ said the bartender,’ Would you like a drink?’
    ‘No thank you, but, I still don’t understand,’ said the puzzled nun.
    ‘You see,’ laughed the bartender, ‘every time someone lifts the fig leaf on that statue, the lights go out.

    Now, how about that drink?

  16. In the Times of India afternoon paper in Mumbai called Mumbai Mirror, there is a column
    on “Meet the Sexpert” there. Some funnies below :

    Q: Is it safe if penis is kept in the vagina when sleeping?

    A: Usually when the penis returns to flaccid state, it will slide out of the vagina. Even if does not, be rest assured the vagina will not have it for breakfast.

    Q. I am a 36-year-old man. Six months ago I had sex with a housewife. Then, I made as many as 220 strokes in the 40 minutes of our intercourse. Today, I could only reach 180 in the same time. Please reply. I am worried.

    A: Do take part in the Commonwealth Games since you seem like an athlete. My advice is to enjoy the act and stop counting. Do give a thought to whether you are satisfying your partner or not!

    Q: I am a 25-year-old man. My penis is short and small in diameter. When aroused, its size increases to resemble a ¾ inch PVC pipe. I have heard that there are capsules available that help increase the size. Please advise.

    A: As plenty of water can pass through a PVC pipe, similarly more than enough semen can pass out of your penis.

    Q: I have heard that any kind of acidic substance can prevent pregnancy. Can I pour some drops of lemon or orange juice in my girlfriend’s vagina after the intercourse? Will it harm her?

    A: Are you a bhel puri vendor? Where did you get this weird idea from? There are many other safe and easy methods of birth control. You can consider using a condom.

    Best of best..

    Girl: I’m 19 & I’m pregnant, how do I tell my parents?
    Amazing reply from sexpert : if you can open your legs then why not your mouth?

    This is perhaps the most profound philosophy I have heard in recent times:

    “Life is like a penis – simple, relaxed and hanging free… it’s women who make it hard.”

  17. Step ? That was some awesome stomping !!
    We have now officially produced a sub-human race !
    And not to dampened your spirits ,but they will rule the world one day .
    In some countries they already do !

  18. I bow to the real joke master on Untold;
    Ladies and Gentleman the Lord of the Jokes;
    Your one and only (drum drum drum drum)…: Brickfields Gunners 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *