​Women take on football’s ‘sexist pigs’ in the battle for World Cup screen time

Women in the United Kingdom’s football industry have hit back at critics of Vicki Sparks — the BBC’s first female World Cup commentator.

Sparks led coverage of the World Cup clash between Morocco and Portugal from Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium for BBC One last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, ex-England captain John Terry — who infamously had an affair with his teammate’s girlfriend in 2010 and, in 2011, called Anton Ferdinand a “fucking black cunt” during a match between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers — posted a video on his Instagram story saying that he was “having to watch this game with no volume”.

Social media slammed Terry’s comments for being sexist, though the footballer explained the following day that he was misunderstood.

But the outcry over female commentators did not stop there and on Monday former footballer Jason Cundy complained on morning television that women’s voices are “too high pitched” for match commentary.

Cundy, who once played for Chelsea, Tottenham and Ipswich, but won no major honours during his professional career, said he found Spark’s coverage a “tough listen”, in an appearance on Good Morning Britain.

The show’s host, Piers Morgan, called Cundy a “sexist pig” and sports presenter Jacqui Oatley and Chelsea star Fran Kirby also hit back at an antiquated attitude towards women in sport.

Oatley, the first female commentator on Match of the Day and a presenter for ITV in Russia this year, called out “dinosaur dissenters” on Twitter.

“I’ve been trying to stay out of this as I just want the likes of Vicki Sparks and Robyn Cowen to be able to crack on doing a fine job without adding to the scrutiny (which affected my confidence for a while). Still feel we’ve made progress. Dinosaur dissenters are in the minority,” she wrote.

I’ve been trying to stay out of this as I just want the likes of @vksparks and @robyniocowen to be able to crack on doing a fine job without adding to the scrutiny (which affected my confidence for a while). Still feel we’ve made progress. Dinosaur dissenters are in the minority. https://t.co/SBaz4TjVwh

— Jacqui Oatley (@JacquiOatley) June 25, 2018

Kirby, who has been called England’s “mini Messi” and was recently crowned the Professional Footballers’ Association’s Women’s Player of the Year after an emphatic season at Chelsea, also condemned Cundy’s comments.Responding to Oatley’s tweet, she said: “How about we just go back to the dinosaur ages to 1921 and ban women’s football? Because clearly some people haven’t evolved since then and still stuck in that time period.”There is a strong female presence across British coverage of the World Cup this year. Oatley is presenting for ITV, while England and Juventus player Eniola Aluko is a studio pundit.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

South Africa has been junked

Treasury says the credit ratings downgrade “could not have come at a worse time”, as country enters a 21-day Covid-19 lockdown with little money saved up

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories