On any given weekend, women involved in football at any level, whether it be grassroots or the Premier League, will be facing abuse by people who are too ignorant or prejudiced to respect their place within the game. As well as abuse, their capabilities are often questioned because of their gender or they are doubted and mocked.
4,200 women who work in football were asked about their experiences in the survey which also tried to categorise the types of abuse, the most common category being labelled as an attempt at banter. Also no big surprise.
Ebru Köksal described the results as “heart-breaking and devastating” adding that, “in this day and age, it’s no longer acceptable, inherent sexism in the game has been continuing for decades”. Perhaps the most concerning finding of all was that only 12% of incidents were reported to a senior body.
Only 12% of incidents were reported to a senior body
This could suggest a fear of speaking out about gender discrimination which former referee, Janie Frampton, believes is the case. Based on her own experiences she claims that women may have too high a tolerance for the discrimination that they face because they are “trying to fit in”.
Whilst much is being done by the FA, sports companies and sports media to promote women’s football and to tackle the discrimination that women in football face, gender discrimination is a problem that is still far too prevalent across all sports and more work still needs to be done.
WiF are calling for male allies which they believe is a key component in their strategy to remove the barriers that women face. They have also created a youth council in order to harness their “different mind frame”, tackling the problem from the bottom up. Two excellent initiatives that can hopefully grow and be replicated wherever they are needed.
Alex Scott offers a well-known example of a woman facing abuse for being a woman, while working in a predominantly male and footballing setting. As a female pundit discussing Premier League games, she is relentlessly targeted online by sexist and racist trolls.
Her degree in journalism and media is disregarded as well as her 140 England caps, 6 league titles, Champions League and 7 FA Cups by those who claim she is there as she is a woman rather than being qualified for the position.
Nobody expects gender discrimination in football to go anywhere quickly, but this survey has made clear that perhaps we are not quite as progressive as we seem.
However easy it may be to look away, or laugh uncomfortably, or to simply carry on scrolling, gender discrimination is still there, and we all have a responsibility to do more.