A new report is calling on men’s professional football clubs to tackle pervasive sexism and misogyny in the sport.
It recommends that a national hotline is set up so women can report incidents safely and action is taken.
The report, written by Dr Stacey Pope from our Department for Sport and Exercise Sciences, has been shared with all men’s professional football clubs in England as well as football governing bodies and key politicians.
Dr Pope’s report suggests that men’s football could learn from the women’s game and the positive and inclusive fan culture around the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 tournament.
The study follows research by the team at Durham University which has shown that men’s professional football in England remains one of the last bastions of male domination and misogynistic attitudes towards women are rife within football.
Dr Pope argues that addressing sexism and misogyny in men’s football could lead to growth in the game, significantly increasing attendances and interest. She says it is not only the right thing to do, in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion, but could have financial benefits for clubs too.
The report makes five key recommendations:
The changes called for by Dr Pope follow on from her recent study, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which showed that openly misogynistic attitudes towards women’s sport are still common amongst male football fans.
A related study looking at women’s experiences as football fans revealed that they are routinely asked to ‘prove’ their status as ‘real’ fans. There were numerous accounts from women describing men who thought that: “Women in football is a bit of a joke,” and hostile experiences in the stadium, with comments such as: “Shut up, you’re a woman, what would you know?”.
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