This tournament, the women have been amazing with their analysis and critiques – and the men really can’t talk.
Mark Lawrenson consistently sounds like a guy who hates football and would rather be left in peace to get on with his pint. Every time Cesc Fabregas tries to speak, other men jump in so we barely get to hear from the man who was part of many of Spain’s glorious triumphs. Phil Neville forgot that Uruguay have won the World Cup trophy twice. Yet, nobody is calling for men to be dropped from football punditry.
Women however, get far worse treatment for the (limited) roles they’re granted. Jokes were made that Iran don’t allow women to watch football but we can’t even give women jobs in football without them then being exposed to an onslaught of unfair and unjustified criticism.
One particularly pernicious column tried to argue that women should’t be recruited into punditry roles because the World Cup is competed by men. We’ll just completely ignore the tournaments women compete in then, and the fact that men still take up managerial roles and punditry roles throughout women’s football or the fact that this is basically calling for gender segregation. All of that is bullshit. The truth is some men have shown they can’t handle women who can keep up with them.
“The truth is some men have shown they can’t handle women who can keep up with them”
Aluko, Scott, Oatley, Logan have not remotely diminished the quality of discussions around football. They’ve rather increased the quality. Audiences want panels that reflect them and it is right that women should be allowed space on such a global stage. Women watch, play and love football.
Their commentary and discussion points are incredibly insightful either through their own years of experience playing the game or the time they’ve spent watching and following the sport. They are experts in their field. They know as much as Shearer and possibly more than Phil Neville.
The Russian World Cup has had a lot of attention, as much for the politics around it as for the high quality of the games. It’s endlessly frustrating though that women’s right to have a place in sport is still up for debate. The benchmark is set so much higher for women. Nobody is arguing over the presence of men in the game because of the gaffes of some men. Yet, if a woman has a slip of the tongue and says “Christian” instead of “Cristiano” there are hundreds of comments online about “the PC agenda” and questioning why women should be allowed in football roles. Women have a right to work – including in men’s football. If the debate was truly about quality, then actually there would be far more clamours for certain men to be dropped from the line-up.
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