Scudamore: an Affront to Women, Not Just Football
Words can reduce a person to an object
Something more easy to hate
An inanimate entity, completely disposable
No problem to obliterate.
– The Language of Violence – Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
Why are the voices of women almost silent in the Richard Scudamore case?
Apart from what I thought was an excellent article in The Guardian by Marina Hyde, I have been watching the recent debate in the media and on Twitter about the PL Chief Executive with a kind of appalled fascination. I thought Hyde nailed it with regard to the hypocrisy regarding Scudamore’s treatment and that of former head of Supporters Direct, Dave Boyle, who was sacked for what seems a much lesser offence. I don’t agree, however, that Scudamore should remain in the post because his e-mail correspondence with his lawyer mate constituted some kind of disciplinary issue and is therefore merely an employment matter. Scudamore’s position is untenable because no-one in a position of responsibility should hold views that are so derogatory towards other members of the human race. He should not be allowed to remain in a position of power and influence because, if he believes – or even thinks it’s acceptable to joke about – the things expressed in those e-mails, he isn’t fit to do his job.
For all the lip service that many men in football pay to it, I have never been convinced there’s much sincerity at the very top about the importance of the women’s game. While Sepp Blatter – he of the famous remark about women footballers wearing tight shorts – remains President of FIFA, there can never be any genuine sense of equality. Scudamore is one, I fear, of many men in the top echelons of sport to hold such views.
I have not seen many women express a public view on Scudamore’s e-mails. Although privately all of my women friends are both angry and upset, they are so used to this kind of thing, it’s barely merited a shrug. We see and hear it all the time. In the workplace, the pub, and the home, many women are patronised, ignored and called derogatory things every day.
As for the great Bantz Fest that is social networking, it hardly bears thinking about. How many of the men who have, quite rightly, been complaining about Scudamore for not calling his friend out for using such a foul term as “gash” would have protested if some lad with a belly full of beer had used the same word in a tweet? I’ve seen it used – and far worse – but I’ve never seen anyone complain about it, whereas I have certainly come across understandable outrage about racist or homophobic abuse. I’m afraid that sexism and misogyny are simply not regarded as being quite such serious matters.
Concerned – and I’m sure genuine – men have been talking about the Scudamore issue ever since the content of the e-mails was revealed. It is no longer about women, it seems, it’s about football governance, about the future of the game, about the wealthy and powerful, about another man getting the sack. It’s about anything but what it should be about: women and the misogyny they are forced to experience on a daily basis.
I have puzzled many of my women friends in the last few days by reiterating my view that Scudamore should really be relieved of his position because of his opinions on the future of the game (increased commercialisation, the extra game, etc.) I believe this, or at least that his unfitness for office is now both because of his views on football and his attitude to women. It’s obvious, though, that for many of the prominent voices demanding Scudamore be held to account, there is a distinct subtext: he’s slipped up enough to provide us with an opportunity to remove this unpopular official from the game (and, hey fellas, I’m right behind you on that one!)
However, it would be a tragedy if the vital issue of attitudes to women in football were subsumed beneath the equally-important but much better aired subject of football governance. Please don’t let the important side issue of Scudamore’s other perceived faults overshadow this women’s issue.
Still, it’s encouraging that there has been such outrage about this and it shows no sign of going away as I write. I look forward to the time when some of the men who are now so exercised about Richard Scudamore’s e-mails will be equally outraged that, for example, men who have been convicted of domestic violence continue to have high profiles as cricket summarisers or managers of football teams. I also hope that they will be equally vociferous if (or, as I suspect, when) a convicted rapist returns to play in the Football League.