Don’t let the FA fool you. They are still as sexist as ever

Quiz question: Which organisation has banned its own fans from buying tickets for its own national team – even though the game was not a sell-out? The answer is of course, the FA.
The background is this. The FA arranged a match between England’s women and Germany’s women for tomorrow. The game is at Wembley – the first time England’s women have played at the new Wembley*. When ticket sales reached 55,000 the FA banned people from buying tickets because of work on the tube. So in theory an innocent mistake. The FA had simply underestimated the support the NWT had (they had set an attendance target of 30,000). The English cricket board did something similar during the 2005 Ashes where they put 20,000 tickets on sale for the last day of the Third Test – and had to turn 10,000 people away and the police told thousands more not to bother trying .
However that is not backed up by one fact and one coincidence. The FA must have known the women’s game would be popular. The England women, in their guise as Team GB** had an attendance of 70,000 when they played Brazil at Wembley during the 2012 Olympics – and the Final got 80,000. So that rules out the “the underestimation theory”. And there is a sinister coincidence here. Before last Saturday’s game with Slovenia, the biggest attendance England’s men had got at Wembley this season was 55,990. Remember the women’s attendance was capped at 55,000. Too big a coincidence. The FA capped the gate to stop the women beating the men. Sexist. And pathetic. And it allowed James Gill to write in the current issue of Radio Times, the BBC’s TV listings magazine (page 60) that “it might not quite match the number who got behind Team GB during the Olympics”. But he must know that is because the gate was capped. That event happened at the start of this month. Who is to say they wouldn’t have got 70,000? Or even 80,000? We were never allowed to find out.
This game comes at the end of another horrific week for football’s attitude to women. Convicted rapist Ched Evans (I mentioned him in an earlier post) last week was allowed to train with former club Sheffield United at the request of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA). Needless to say it caused uproar, with patrons resigning and popular UK athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill asking for her name to be removed from a stand at the club’s home ground. The club quite rightly backed down – but co-chairman Jim Phipps dug a hole for himself by saying it was “mob rule” that forced the club to change its mind. No idiot, It was public opinion. We live in a democracy and have every right to express our disgust at the idea of a rapist playing professional football. The PFA don’t get it either. They think Evans should be allowed to join another club. NO. If he was a teacher he wouldn’t be allowed near a school. I bet you Dave Lee Travis, Rolf Harris and others jailed for sex crimes won’t be on UK TV ever again (the BBC don’t show 1970’s “Top of the Pops” repeats that DLT hosted). And UK Home Secretary Theresa May quite rightly banned controversial “pick up artist” Julien Blanc from entering the country because what he says is sexist and might encourage violence against women. If he can be banned from the UK for opinions that might cause sex crimes then surely Ched Evans can be banned from football for life for committing sexual abuse.
And to put the tin lid on it a sexist, racist and homophobic man is back in employment. Malky Mackay (another one I’ve mentioned before) is Wigan’s new manager. When Wigan’s MP Lisa Nandy dared to question this owner Dave Whelan said “our MP, I don’t think she has been to a football match. I don’t think she went to watch Wigan at Wembley”. So what? An MP has every right to comment on anything to do with their constituency. But football has this arrogant “we know best” mentality and thinks no one outside of football should have an opinion on it. Since the appointment Whelan has made racist and anti-Semitic comments to a UK newspaper and the FA might charge him. He – and MacKay – should be banned for life.
And what is the FA doing? Nothing. Chairman Greg Dyke has said the Evans affair is “no important issue” in an awful TV interview on BBC 2’s “Newsnight”. Both Dyke and former FA chairman Lord Triesman have attacked FIFA over its corruption – but not its sexism. Not a word has been said by the FA on FIFA’s sexist decision to make women play the 2015 Women’s World Cup on artificial turf. Why? They couldn’t give a toss.
The FA are, in effect, using the England NWT for propaganda purposes to convince the country they are not sexist. But they are. An organisation that is not sexist would ban Evans, Phipps, Gordon Taylor (chief executive of the PFA), MacKay, Iain Moody (MacKay’s sidekick in the text scandal) and Whelan for life. Then we will know that the FA are not sexist (or racist or homophobic). But until then don’t let the FA fool you. As blogger Jason Burke Murphy put it (in a comment on “The Sport Spectacle”) “proving that the English FA are sexist is like shooting fish in a barrel”. He’s right. The FA are as bad as they were in the 1970s. In fact they are worse. The one thing worse than a sexist is one who is a sexist but tries to deny it. And that sums up the FA perfectly.
*Some in the UK press say its their first game at Wembley but England women played at the old Wembley in 1990.
**Apart from the excellent Kim Little (a Scot) the GB team who played Brazil were English.


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