Monday, January 24, 2011

The UK media love a bit of hysteria and whipping up a frenzy from angry minorities. They have got a lot of column inches and airtime to fill after all.

The off camera comments from Sky Sports' Richard Keys and Andy Gray about female lino Sian Massey, who was running the line in the game between Wolves and Liverpool in the Premiership, have been heavily reported over the weekend.

Sexist remarks were made about Massey, another female official from the past and West Ham vice Chairman Karren Brady, with Keys apparently declaring that the game's gone mad.

The comments have created quite a fuss from angry women and modern men.

Calls for condemnation and discipline have been rife, but let's be honest here, they didn't say anything that most men haven't said or thought themselves, plus the important thing to me in all of this is that they were not broadcast, so it's just like you and me having a chat down the pub.

The recording of the comments were passed on to the Mail On Sunday newspaper by an anonymous source - what's to bet it's a woman or someone with an axe to grind. The person that leaked the recording is the person that should be getting disciplined or sacked.

When I was watching the game in question on Saturday, my immediate reaction at Torres' goal, and whether it was offside or not, was to shout out "what are you doing, you stupid cow" and wonder why a woman was being allowed to run the line in a Premiership game. I'm sure I wasn't alone readers. All the replays have shown Massey to be correct in allowing the goal to stand. Well done love (insert smiley face!).

It would be easy to dismiss the whole thing with a sexist gag here and a ridiculous "women should be in the kitchen" remark there, but that would be wrong. Besides, we know that men make the better cooks anyway.

The whole thing does let us talk about the elephant in the room surrounding women in men's football. It IS ok to talk about this you know and in fact we really should.

Yes, it's 2011 and not the dark ages, but let's face facts here, women are always going to struggle to gain acceptance in men's football whether they be officials, managers or even commentators and presenters. I'm not even going to go into the rights and wrongs of that here, it's just fact.

Women have equality in sport, but in most of them the two sexes don't mix, so why is it wrong to keep it that way in football? Why is it bad to say so? Surely that's why there's women's football, just like there's women's tennis, women's golf, women's rugby and so on and so on.

Of course, women's football is a joke, as we've covered before in this blog. I've tried to give it a chance but it's just laughable. Some people like it, some people are passionate about it, but it's mostly in countries where they have no heritage of the game or where it's not understood or taken seriously enough. There are some exceptions to this, but even in countries like Germany or Brazil, the women's game struggles to be taken seriously by the majority.

I was recently reading a copy of 'Shoot' magazine from July 3rd 1971. Alan ball's column for that particular issue ran with the headline "Soccer Must Stay A Man's Game".

Here's some of the column:

"Of course it all started very casually. A few girls get together and decide that anything a man can do, they can do at least as well. It's all very much a novelty at this stage and nobody takes it seriously...

...Once the novelty had worn off, who exactly would go along to watch? Once can imagine men going along to poke fun rather than cheer. To laugh rather than applaud the finer points of play...

...As long as its not taken too seriously and the game played for pure enjoyment, well okay! But the signs are that it is becoming part of a big organisation, with whispers even of a World Cup for women's teams. Surely that is taking things a bit too far!...

...I see that a girl of sixteen has just passed her referee's examinations...And there's no harm at all in the women supporters getting to know a bit more about the game, rather than just the players in it"


Fantastic stuff! It's quite hilarious reading it 40 years later but he does make some good points and you could argue that many men's opinions haven't changed much in those four decades.

Channel 4's excellent "The Manageress" drama 20 years ago hasn't signalled top level women's managers in the men's game either.

Whenever a woman is either a referee or a linesman in a man's game, it puts added pressure on them. People are just waiting for them to make a mistake and pounce on them for it. Can you imagine the uproar there would have been had Massey made the wrong decision on Saturday. It's not right for it to be that way, but it is, so why put them into that situation in the first place? If it's to try and change people's perceptions then why do we need to do that in football when, as we've said above, it's not the case in other sports?

My opinion of women referees and officials is clouded due to the hapless display I witnessed first hand of a hapless Canadian ref called Carol Anne Chenard who completely lost control of a USL Championship match in 2009, probably costing Vancouver Whitecaps the title. It was painful to watch. As chants of "this game's too big for you" rang out around the stadium, the players saw her as weak and harrassed her constantly. Never seen her ref a Caps game since.

I had a disucssion around women commentators recently too and how painful it is to listen to them. Sexist? Stuck in our ways? Too used to male commentators? Whatever the reason, they're not enjoyable to listen to and it just sounds wrong. I can't help that that is how I and many others feel and we shouldn't be made to feel bad or be branded sexist for it.

I'm all for female presenters of the shows. It's a good mix, as long as they're informative and not just there for eye candy.

So instead of villifying Richard Keys and Andy Gray, let's thank them for bringing the subject of women in football out into the open and let's get some serious discussions going as to why football is being singled out to include women in it when other sports aren't.

5 comments:

  1. Clearly you are an indiot, especially if you think that Chenard hasn't been referee in a game since the Whitecaps lost their cool and the championships in 2009. She has been the referee for several Whitecaps games since then and the players and the administration think she is one of the best. She continues to be the best referee in Canada (male or female) and one of the best female referees in the world having run the middle of the field at the U20 Womens World Cup championship game and more than likely will be slected as a referee for the Womens World cup in 2011. She should have been in Beijing for the Olympics but politics played their part, there is no doubt she will be in London. Beofre that, expect to see her running the middle of several men's league Games if not controlling the idiotic coaches on the sideline as THE best fourth official in the Game (period). Clearly you could never be a referee, run the line, manage the 4th or likely play at a high enough level to realize this as all of the real commentators already have.

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  2. You must have been talking to different players than I have then, as the ones I've talked to don't have a good word to say about her.

    She completely lost the plot in that game. She may do better in monkey tennis though.

    Btw, what's an indiot?

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  3. I don't mind the idea of it at all, In fact I love the idea of females in Football! I also think that women should be allowed to play in the mens game, only providing they are good enough obviously, as I agree that womens football is just ridiculous, and I don't think that they should have to be confined to that stupid version of the brilliant game! And with the refs, as long as they're reliable and make the right decisions, women have just as good eyesight as men, so I don't see why they couldn't!

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  4. Zoe... How can you even consider women playing against men?
    1. How do you expect men to feel comfortable barging and grabbing other players if they are females?
    2. Each stadium would need four changing rooms.
    3. The average woman footballer (except maybe the germans) would have little chance outmuscling Messi, let alone Drogba or Nemanja Vidic.
    4. If women can play with men, then men should be able to compete with women in all sports, and there would be no female olympic champions on the track.
    5. How can you do a halftime dressing room team talk. Either a woman has to stand there for 15 minutes while men walk round in underpants or some type of pigeon messaging service would have to be installed.

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  5. I hate u
    you r so sexist!!!!!!!!!!!

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