Last week Glasgow Rangers Chief Executive Charles Green announced that he wanted sex equality in the game so much that he was willing to go to court to get it.
Really? No, of course not.
What Mr Green said was that to overturn barriers that prevent his Scottish based-team from playing in English leagues (i.e. attempt to make more money), he threatened to use a Dutch/Belgian cross-border professional women’s league as precedent in a sex discrimination case against UEFA.
When I heard the news, I allowed myself a few moments to muse over what sex equality might look like in the game in Scotland. Could we have a Title IX style Scotland? Title IX is American legislation that ensures that for every male team in publicly funded schools there must be a female team as well. Could women’s and girl’s teams have equal access to facilities? Could women players, coaches and referees have equal access to all leagues? Could women’s football/soccer get equal billing in the media?
But do we really want to adopt every aspect of the men’s game. Sectarianism, violence, sexism and class issues are largely absent from the girl’s and women’s game. Do we really want to blur the reasons why the women’s game is different, and often better, than the men’s?
There were a range of responses to Green’s comments from fans and the media. Scotzine stated that rather than suing UEFA:
“…Green could always go for the cheaper route and dress up messers Alexander, McCulloch, Wallace and co. in drag. False eye lashes, wigs and sports bras are far cheaper that taking on UEFA in a court of law in Europe.”
Others suggested that Rangers join the English women’s leagues. One Liverpool fan actually took the prospect of an equal future seriously but didn’t like what he saw:
“…[If we] start challenging football with sex discrimination he’ll open a whole can of worms and potentially open up football to a challenge that could break down the wall that keeps men’s football and women’s football on separate pitches and leagues.”
In Scotzine’s defence they at least published a picture of women playing football to accompany the article about Green’s comments. The BBC announced Green’s comments over a video of the Scotland team doing a warm up drill, holding hands in a circle, giggling, i.e. looking girly. They were playing at playing, not actually playing. I suppose I should be grateful that it was not announced over photos of them in eveningwear, or worse, in various stages of undress.
What was missing from all of the coverage was the huge gulf in support and attitude that does exist between the men’s and women’s games and the clear point that suggesting to use sex discrimination legislation in such a way is cynical and ignorant. What a long way we still have to go.