It was interesting listening to the events unfold regarding Andy Gray and Richard Key’s comments on the female Premier League Official, Sian Massey. Both are quoted as saying “…someone needs to go down there and explain the offside rules to her” And in a follow-on to the discussions, Richard Keys is quoted as criticising Karren Brady, the West Ham Director (otherwise known as a judge on ‘The Apprentice’ to you and I): “See the charming Karen Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Yeah, do me a favour love“. Indeed, responding to the issue, Rio Ferdinand, England Captain tweeted: I’m all for women refereeing in football – discrimination should not happen in our game at all. Prehistoric views if you think otherwise“. Both have been suspended by Sky Sports as a consequence.
But the question for the foot-balling sport is whether the sexist comments from both reputable sports presenters is simply symptomatic of a larger issue around prejudice and stereo-typing still inherent in the sport? Surely the tenets of equality as it impacts the ‘typical’ workplace also pertains to the pitch as well? And if the ‘pitch’ is seen as possessing ’pre-historic’ views in terms of gender, should our footballing management not be tasked to proactively demonstrate practical initiatives to ensure a radical cultural, behavioural and attitudinal change as would be expected within the ‘typical’ office-based workplace environment? As far as football is concerned, my view is that we have been dragging our feet in this area for a long time…
I am a supporter of Chelsea (I know, don’t slag me off I have reasons to be, I was born in Chelsea!) and watch football as and when I am able. I am not a hardcore foot-balling fan. But what has always remained a subconscious observation/question in mind however, is the fact that despite this country producing a large range of Black talented footballers, as well as importing many from far and wide (Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Adebayor, etc) there remains a clear and visible lack of Black Managers in the Premiership?
See some interesting statistics I picked up from the BBC website going back to 2007 which may lend themselves to some controversial conclusions:
- Only 2 out of 92 league clubs in England have Black Managers
- Less than 1% of senior coaching staff at the 92 league clubs are Black – even though more than 20% of players are
- Just two of the nine most highly-qualified Black coaches in the country all of whom have better qualifications than Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate – currently have jobs in the League.
- Since its inception in 1992, there has never been a Black English Manager in the Premiership – even though about 25% of its players are not White. Jean Tigana managed Fulham and Ruud Gullit were in charge at Chelsea and Newcastle, but there has not been an English Black Manager.
The aim here is not to turn the sexist comments into a racist issue but simply to recognise that both sexism and racism are peas from the same pod. The arguments for both, historically, arose out of similar contexts and traditions and until the foot-balling sport adopts an overall inclusive approach to the management of the sport, we are probably only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what comes next!