Friday, 28 January 2011

A Gender Setting Agenda Setting

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28:  Assistant ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Sian Massey has been withdrawn from this weekend's game at Corby Town in the Blue Square League.

This is through no fault of her own, but due to the massive media attention brought on by Andy Gray's and Richard Key's ignorant and prejudiced comments on her abilities as an official in a football match. Rather brilliantly, she showed herself to be very good at the job, although even if she had made errors that wouldn't justify the sexism displayed by Gray and Keys; she's allowed to be human.

A major part of the problem here is that their comments come as no surprise to me; I play football regularly and if I pulled up every player who made non politically correct remarks I'd have no time to play any football. Sexism is rife in the game, and probably many other sports. It's good that these two have become high profile victims of their own prejudices, to highlight this endemic problem. I'm not entirely sure one instance of casual sexism is sufficient to warrant summary sacking, but this incident, and this, show that these are not aberrations; it reflects their normal behaviour. And while that can be allowed in the private sphere, in the public sphere, including the workplace, it's completely unacceptable. I don't believe for a second that these are the first such incidents in the last 20 years of Sky football broadcasting. Why has it taken this long to come to light? Richard Keys suggested there were dark forces at work, possibly alluding to the phone hacking scandal - Andy Gray is suing the News of the World for breach of privacy. But such prehistoric attitudes must have been condoned, or overlooked, for decades, so one cannot be hopeful that sexism can be rooted out just by sacking these two offenders.

Which brings me back to poor Sian Massey, a blameless individual who doesn't have the benefit of years of fat salary cheques to fall back on, and whose career has been temporarily blighted by this controversy. Here's hoping she can be given full support to return to her duties. How wonderful if she could progress and referee the World Cup Final eventually? Good luck to her.
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