English Football has decided to take a stand against sexism
The minister for sport, Helen Grant, has given her backing to a major campaign against sexism in football as footage emerged of large scale abusive chanting at Premier League grounds that has gone unpunished by clubs and the Football Association.Video footage taken of Manchester United and Arsenal fans earlier this season shows grossly offensive chanting aimed at the Chelsea club doctor, Eva Carneiro, that left campaigners “gravely concerned” by the lack of response from football authorities when it was reported. A similar incident at Manchester City was also reported by the campaign group Women in Football but no action was ultimately taken.In all, the campaign group has recorded 13 similar incidents this season aimed at female staff, officials, journalists and cheerleaders. In the footage from Old Trafford, obtained by the BBC, the crowd chant offensive and demeaning chants to laughter of those around.
A Chelsea spokesman said: “The issue of equality is one we take extremely seriously and we abhor discrimination in all its forms, including sexism. Such behaviour is unacceptable and we want it eradicated from the game.”
Campaigners argue that only if incidents of sexist chanting are treated with the same seriousness as, racist chanting, will the sport become a more welcoming place for women to work.A spokesperson for Women in Football said: “We are appalled that sexist abuse has been allowed to thrive, unchecked, around some of the country’s most iconic football stadiums. We are gravely concerned at a lack of action on this issue, and the negative message this sends to women in the football industry. We urge the authorities to put sexism at the heart of football’s anti-discrimination agenda, alongside all the other strands that it must also tackle.”
A Women in Football survey last season found more than two-thirds of women working within football had been subjected to sexism and 89% said they had witnessed it but had not reported it for fear it would not be taken seriously.
A month-long campaign, launched in conjunction with the Everyday Sexism project to coincide with International Women’s Day on Sunday, will use social media to highlight the growing number of women working in football.
It will also aim to raise awareness of discrimination and sexist abuse, especially on match days. All 92 Premier and Football League clubs have been asked to profile inspirational female staff and fans in their matchday programmes to show their commitment to equal opportunities and have been provided with a briefing document for stewards highlighting the importance of tackling sexist chanting and abuse.“Women represent half the population and half the talent. They deserve to belong to football with equal recognition in the boardroom, workforce and as supporters,” said the spokesperson for Women in Football which represents more than 1,200 women working within the sport.“While we recognise progress is being made there are still too many barriers to women’s progression in the industry and acceptance by the sport. That is why we are asking clubs to champion female talent as well as raise awareness of sexist abuse and discrimination and how those affected can report it in a bid to bring about a change in attitudes.”
Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, which has chronicled the experiences of thousands of women, said: “We have received numerous entries from people who have experienced sexism, harassment or abuse while playing, watching, supporting or working in football. It is time for clubs and fans alike to stand together and take responsibility for creating a space where everybody can enjoy football, free from any kind of prejudice.”A spokesman for Kick It Out, which has also separately recorded 13 incidents of sexist abuse this season, said: “Sexism and sexist abuse should be tackled as rigorously as racist and homophobic abuse. We would call on anyone who hears it or is the victim of it to report the incident directly to us and we will make sure it is investigated properly.”