25 Nov 2013 | Football

The Glass Ceiling Stadium

As regular readers will know, one of my agendas in this blog is to use football as a channel for discussing seemingly unrelated but nonetheless important subjects.

I’ve been minded for some time to discuss and give air to women’s football (and indeed I’ll do this later on this season) but in my summary researches I found some interesting contrasts between backgrounds and concerns of British and Italian female soccer.

2013 has seen forward strides of Women in Football (WiF) an organisation whose aim is clearly specified as being a network of professional women working in and around the football industry who support and champion their peers. WiF aims to improve women’s representation at all levels of the game by:

  • Celebrating women’s achievement
  • Challenging discrimination and lobbying for change
  • Sharing professional contacts, advice and expertise
  • Offering mentoring opportunities to the next generation

It’s been obvious for some time that female journalists have been writing about and commentating/presenting the (male dominated) game, but this is the first acknowledgment I’ve seen that they are fully functioning in other areas of football too.

What is equally interesting and disturbing however is that the existence of an organisation like this has to deal with pressure from some people who resent its existence? I refer to Gaby Logan’s BBC documentary in May 2012 ’Sexism in football?’

The programme essentially turned the question mark into an exclamation mark. Today is no different and on the 2nd November 2013 WiF Tweeted

‘Women in Football ‏@WomeninFootball 2 Nov

#journorequest @masters_jamesD from CNN is looking for female sports journalists affected by trolls. Get in touch with your experiences.

In case you don’t quite get it, these so-called trolls harangue and insult professional journalists not for what they report, nor for whom they support and not even how they report it – but because they are women. It’s just stupid that from a nation that sees itself as an example of democracy and free thinking, that some men (presumably, I shudder at the thought it could be women too) find the time to condemn a woman for writing about what she knows.

By contrast, the Italian site Calcio Donne  is currently headed up by an article by a male writer Walter Pettinati about domestic violence. He writes ‘Only in Italy; Every three days a woman is murdered by her husband, her lover or an ex….so far 2013 has seen 128 victims.’

He goes on to call for an end to the situation in the name of women’s football.

It’s an interesting thought that a sports website involves itself with broader social issues and I wonder at what stage the British version will feel comfortable in commenting on sadly topical subjects such as domestic slavery and domestic violence.

It’s noticeable that as women gain more respect and equality that the only response some men can make is physical and aggressive.