Matt Wolstenholme has had enough of the entrenched sexism in the sport of soccer.
Football – or as those in the USA refer to it, soccer – is often called “The Beautiful Game,” but it is a world where women are treated as second-class citizens on the pitch and ridiculed from the terraces. It is a two-faced sport, publicly priding itself on its universal image, while belittling the participation of half the world’s population.
For an example of women being denied a level playing field, we need look no further than the pitches themselves.
At the Women’s World Cup in Canada next year, the best female players on the planet will be forced to ply their trade on synthetic surfaces. This will be the first time artificial turf has been used at this showpiece tournament. Such an ignominy would never be thrust upon a Men’s World Cup.
Female players are understandably furious, and a group of leading stars has even started legal proceedings.
While strides have been taken to combat other forms of discrimination, the powers that be seem unwilling to tackle sexism. More often than not, they’re part of the problem themselves.
Earlier this year Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore was given a perfunctory slap on the wrist for sending sexist emails. Imagine if they had been racist emails. Would he still be in his post?
And then there’s Sepp Blatter. The dinosaur FIFA president who suggested female footballers wear tighter shorts to promote the game.
FIFA as an organisation reflects Blatter’s backwards views. According to a Sports Illustrated Report, nearly 200 people have been elected to FIFA’s executive committee over the last century.
All of them were men until Burundi’s Lydia Nsekera became the first woman last year. She remains the sole elected female on the board.
Most of us won’t be in a position to drag FIFA in the 21st century. But we can all act on a smaller scale.
Leyton Orient fan James McMahon complained when his fellow supporters were singing a sexist song. The vitriolic abuse he subsequently received from fans left him on the verge of turning his back on the club forever. But Orient took action and pledged to revoke the ticket of anybody heard repeating the chant.
The actions of McMahon and his club give some hope for the future. This is an illustration of what can be achieved, simply by speaking out. Unless women are a welcome part of the football family, as fans or players, then the sport will never be truly universal.
So if you see or hear something sexist sullying the beautiful game, please take a stand. Don’t let it slide.
We all need to do our bit to tackle sexism, because we’re not going to get any help from the likes of Scudamore and Blatter.
(Photo Credit: Associated Press/Jon Super)