Mediawatch: Why helping the women’s game matters

Date published: Thursday 12th October 2017 8:00

Paul Pogba: The big update
‘EXCLUSIVE: Paul Pogba working so hard on comeback in US he needs hose to cool down’ – The Sun.

Two things:

1) It isn’t that weird to splash water on your face after exercising. In fact, it’s an official Mediawatch tip.

2) You’ve described Paul Pogba as a ‘powerhouse’. Please stop with this sort of thing. Cheers.


Least surprising opinion of the day

Mediawatch has grown far too grey and weary reading Matthew Syed’s pseudo-nonsense for one lifetime, but it really is incredible that he can still write lines like ‘the key principle in employment equality is meritocracy’ and ‘people should be recruited according to ability rather than gender’.


Sorry, we’ve calmed down a bit now, let’s carry on:

‘This might not be so worrying, except for the knock-on effect. For the act of providing a subsidy carries the implication that women cannot stand on their own two feet.’

No it doesn’t. It implies that, finally, women are being allowed to stand on two feet at all, rather than having one tied to the other and being asked to run fast in a straight line.

The reason women’s football lags behind men’s football is not because of some inbuilt weakness in women or because the sport has never been popular or economically successful (Google ‘women’s football England 1920s’), but because it has been held back by a system of oppression. That is both a cultural oppression (the hard-wired sexism where men are workers and women are homemakers) and a literal explicit oppression.

Women were literally banned from playing football on its grounds by the Football Association between 1921 and 1971. The most powerful country in world football banned over half of its population from playing the game for half a century. Can you not see how that might have impacted on the game’s growth?

Imagine if it had been the other way round, and men’s football had been banned. No Bobby Moore, no Bobby Charlton, no Billy Wright, no World Cup. The England men’s national team may rue its own 51 years of hurt, but the 50 years of ignominy for the women’s game is a little more suffocating.

Syed’s system, whereby you would only ever reward athletes according to what money their actions generate, would merely create a system whereby women’s football was left to fight an impossible fight. Sitting back and repeating “free market economics’ over and over again does not disprove this argument, but proves it.

‘Quotas and subsidies are not just a distraction, but a menace,’ is Syed’s customary sweeping finish. ‘They signal the virtue of those who propose them, but do not help those they purport to assist.’

Do not help? Go tell that to the Norwegian female footballers who have been struggling to support their football career alongside studying and working so that they can provide for themselves. Go tell that to the Norwegian men’s team, who feel proud that they can help their female counterparts finally have the same training opportunities in order to improve their game.

Equal pay is not a magic fix, but nor is it intended as one. It is a gesture, a message to make up in some small way for over 100 years (and many hundreds more in society in general) of inequality.

The most risible thing is that Syed actually thinks he is some knight in shining armour, when in fact plenty of women in sport despise his patronising and misguided columns. In fact, that’s the only thing we’re clinging to.


Calling Sherlock Holmes

Iceland are a country with a population of just over 330,000, who have just become the smallest ever country to qualify for the World Cup finals. They got past Croatia and Turkey, and weren’t even ranked as seeds in their group.

England is a country with a population of just over 56,000,000, who have qualified for their sixth consecutive World Cup, but who have not won a knock-out match in a major tournament since beating Ecuador in 2006. They got past Slovenia, Slovakia and Scotland, and were ranked as top seeds in the group.

Yeah, why didn’t Chelsea supporters go wild when they beat Peterborough United in the FA Cup third round last season? After all, Lincoln City fans celebrated beating Ipswich Town.


The human touch
Mediawatch enjoyed Justin Allen’s interview with David Bellion in The Sun. It’s hardly new news that Bellion is now an artist working in a gallery (the Daily Mirror told us that two-and-a-half years ago), but there are some really nice lines on life at Manchester United.

Yet one part of the interview did make Mediawatch laugh, as Allen describes his meeting with Bellion:

‘We are scheduled to eat at a small cafe in the trendy Le Marais district.

‘The waiter tells us there are no free tables but if we come back later they might squeeze us in.

‘“No problem — we’ll have coffee over the road first,” he politely answers before giving him his mobile phone number to call when there is space.

‘Two things struck me. First the waiter had no clue he had just turned away an ex-United star who lined up with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney and, secondly, Bellion did not play the pompous ‘Do you know who I am?’ card.’

It’s truly as if they are humans like you or I.


Busted flush
‘Manchester United looked like heading for another media bust-up with the Premier League when manager Jose Mourinho refused to be interviewed by Sky Sports at the start of the week,’ writes Charlie Sale in the biggest item in his Daily Mail’s Sports Agenda column.

Uh oh, has a storm been brewing?

‘Sky, who pay over £4billion for their PL rights, had sent a seven-strong crew to Carrington for the Mourinho chat — part of Sky’s contracted requirements ahead of the Liverpool v United game on Saturday. Sky and BT Sport are entitled by beefed-up media regulations to have access to managers ahead of a live televised match.

‘But Mourinho declined to co-operate with the TV cameras with a United spokesman blaming the snub on a schedule mix-up. The Sky interview did eventually take place with Mourinho on Tuesday, ensuring there was no extra fuss for United, who had to put up with their former boss Sir Alex Ferguson serially breaching the PL’s media requirements for managers.

‘Fergie didn’t talk to the BBC for seven years after a documentary highlighting his links with agent son Jason and blanked Sky when he felt like it.’

So ‘interview pre-recorded a day later than one party planned’, then? It doesn’t sound like the recipe for a Ferguson-style ‘media bust-up’ to us.


Well, well
‘Paul Merson is coming out of retirement to play for Welsh Division Two part-timers Caerau FC – aged 49’ – The Sun.

Forgive us for this, but: They come over here from England and take up positions that local lads could have. What’s he know about the Welsh Division Two, Jeff? What’s he know? It’s just clubs going for the fancy name again, rather than giving local boys a chance.


Recommended reading of the day
Mark Ogden on Bournemouth’s goalkeepers.

Archie Rhind-Tutt on Jurgen Klopp.

Michael Walker on James McClean (the comments, less so)

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