As CEO at Women in football (WIF), a 9,000-member organization that promotes gender equality in football, I read with interest Hollie Varney’s article (Sexism is on the rise in football. Here’s what needs to change, January 18th ).
The reports described by Hollie are consistent both anecdotally and statistically with our findings here at WIF. In our 2023 surveyIn the industry’s largest survey of its kind to date, we found that 82% of women working in football have experienced discrimination in the workplace – a significant increase from 66% in our previous survey three years ago.
It is important to highlight positive trends. Over the same period, the proportion of respondents who viewed football as an environment in which women can excel increased from 45% to 67%. However, there remain real concerns about the glass ceiling effect and the lack of clear pathways to report and address abuse. Only 23% of those who suffered gender discrimination felt able to report it to their employer; Many of them received inadequate responses, some described frightening consequences.
Perhaps with the increasing visibility of women in front of the camera comes a certain complacency about sexism. All in all, football needs to get better. We need men to support us for gender equality. we need employers who take a firm stand against discrimination; And as the Luis Rubiales affair showed us last summer, governing bodies need to become more representative and accountable.
Whatever happens, the days when football was a male-only domain are over. The work of women is vital to the industry – from players, match officials, physiotherapists and coaches to financial managers, player support specialists, journalists and agents. Our female members demonstrate exceptional resilience in the face of discrimination. Women in the football industry are here to stay.
CEO, Women in Football
I read Hollie Varney’s article on sexism in football with interest but not surprise. You only have to look online to see how much abuse is directed at players, coaches or experts working in football. However, I was surprised that Hollie didn’t address social media in her post. Anyone who has ever been on Instagram or Twitter/X knows that whenever something about women’s football is posted, a barrage of offensive, sexist comments follow.
What’s depressing about all of this is the television networks’ seeming unwillingness to moderate the responses under their social media posts. This is especially confusing when experts are attacked by misogynists after they post something. Most of the time, it is left to others on the platform to call these people and argue with them (a Sisyphean task) or report them to the social media platform itself.
Unfortunately, some organizations seem to care more about “jokes” and posting things that might “go viral” than acting with due care and diligence to combat sexism and misogyny.
Graeme Bains Hall
It’s not just in football that female broadcasters face sexism: I am a broadcaster covering a range of sports and I receive negative comments on a daily basis about my ability to do my job or the legitimacy of my opinions or analysis.
And the comments aren’t just from sports fans or spectators. When I was working as a commentator at the Tokyo Olympics, a male colleague said to me: “I have nothing against female commentators, but they have to be good.” Does that mean men don’t do that?