The abuse of female footballers is appalling, but there is a wider context

By Tony Attwood

There is no point me covering in any detail the recent reports on the sexual abuse of female footballers.   Others with more knowledge of the issue and access to those who suffered can do this far better than I can – and they are doing exactly that.  If you want to read more about this subject Report finds sexual misconduct and emotional abuse is ‘systemic’ in US women’s soccer is a good place to start.  You might want to follow that up by looking at The horrifying abuse in the NWSL is no surprise to anyone in the game.

But perhaps there is something else I can add.  We should not forget the case of Chelsea against its club doctor Eva Carneiro, which ended with the club apologising “unreservedly” to the former first-team doctor for the distress caused.

And then if we consider wider issues we might note the Daily Mail headline, ‘We’re off!’: Referees leave the game in droves because of horrific abuse – even teenage officials are targeted – with 10,000 hanging up their whistles in the last five years leading to severe shortages,” we can see the game has problems from top to bottom.

But still our thoughts should perhaps go further, and also consider the child sex abuse scandal in football which Untold covered in quite a bit of detail.   If you want the background you might care to look at any of these articles that we ran…

I am not trying to suggest that you delve into each of the articles mentioned above – the links are there in case you do want more information.  But my point is that there have been major scandals involving the treatment of children and women in football, and yet there seems to be no organisation nor any media outlet that wants to link these problems together to say, “Football has multiple problems: why?”

And perhaps the reason is that if anyone actually did do this, and linked everything together that would reach one very unwelcome conclusion: that there is or has been something fundamentally wrong with the way football is administered and controlled both internationally and within England.

Now “is or has been” is quite a contentious phrase, because what the authorities in this country would like to assert is that there is now no problem, everything is fine, the difficulties were in the past, and we do things differently now.

And yet the organisations are still the same: the FA which allowed all the abuse to continue across decades, the clubs where the abuse took place in the past…   And yes of course the organisations might have sorted things out by now, but the actions of Fifa and Uefa, of which the FA is still a member, suggest that no one is standing up to abuse or corruption at all.

Worse, the FA is not accountable to anyone.

The gross incompetence of the FA in handling the Uefa final at Wembley has been mentioned here time and again, but hardly anywhere else.  It is as if we are all being asked to agree it was not the FA’s fault that the organisation of the event was so catastrophic.   Yet it was their stadium, their team, the competition they had willingly entered into, their decision-making concerning ticketing etc.

My point is that no one wants to link all these things together to say, “something is seriously wrong”.  This means that although there is a recognition that the Uefa enquiry into the ludicrous European final in Paris last season is going to be nonsense because the enquiry team are people who have worked closely with or for Uefa now or in the past, there is still no overarching condemnation of Uefa as an organisation not fit for purpose.

And how can there be such condemnation by the FA when their own behaviour in the past, be it in relation to child sex abuse or stadium security, has been scandalous?

But there is still more.   The secrecy is as intense as ever.  Just consider the way PGMO operate.  We have constantly reported the extreme statistical anomalies that can be found when we look at the way results under certain referees pan out. 

That doesn’t prove that anyone is fixing games, but it does show something very odd is going on.  How can referee X preside over all these home wins, while referee Y hardly gets to see a home win, and presides over multiple away wins?  We don’t know because a) the media won’t touch the issue, for fear of losing their privileged press passes, and b) PGMO is the ultimate secret society.

Football has appalling problems, but the media did not talk about them in the past and will not talk about them now.  Which makes the media as guilty as the FA for neither is fulfilling its function.



One Reply to “The abuse of female footballers is appalling, but there is a wider context”

  1. Great article.
    Keep on writing about these little mentioned football stories Tony even though most of the time it must seem you are banging your head against a brick wall.
    The problem is there are far too many ignoramuses like Andrew Banks out there prepared to sweep these issues under the carpet and then have the audacity to criticise people such as yourself who attempt to urge the majority of the silent media into getting off their smug backsides and write about these important issues.

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