Saturday 14 December 2019

WiF call for independent enquiry

Richard Scudamore has spoken of his 'sincere contrition' over sending sexist emails
Richard Scudamore has spoken of his 'sincere contrition' over sending sexist emails

A network of professional women working in football has called for an independent enquiry after Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore escaped punishment for sending sexist emails.

A Football Association equality panel will meet on Tuesday to discuss Scudamore's case after he received full backing from 17 Premier League clubs - the three relegated clubs were not included the process.

The FA's inclusion advisory board (IAB), chaired by independent FA board member Heather Rabbatts, will look into Scudamore's emails and the Premier League's process in handling the case.

Scudamore spoke of his "sincere contrition" after the clubs opted against any further disciplinary action but Women In Football on Tuesday said it was "disappointed" with the decision.

A statement published on read: " Women in Football is disappointed that the Premier League has missed a significant opportunity to demonstrate a strong commitment to equality in the workplace.

"In not recommending action - in any form whatsoever - it will be extremely difficult for women working in the industry to feel reassured that this issue has been adequately addressed.

"In a Women in Football survey over two thirds of the respondents ascribed sexism as a characteristic of their working environment.

"With such evidence of sexism in the football workplace, we feel it is irresponsible for any organisation to dismiss this issue without following good practice and taking independent expert advice.

"We renew our call for an independent enquiry into this matter. We believe it is imperative that any conclusions reached by the Premier League are done so through the means of an objective audit in which employees are given the opportunity to express their views anonymously to an independent body.

"We are additionally concerned that the "extensive consultations" with women in the football industry, cited in the Premier League's statement yesterday, did not extend to Women in Football, despite our position in representing over 1,000 women working across the sport."

Scudamore has said he would hold a series of meetings across football's administration to reassure them of his commitment to promote women in the game.

The statement continued: "Women in Football are committed to helping the Premier League champion and support women in the workplace. We also recognise, and welcome, Richard Scudamore's statement of apology and pledge to uphold equality in his remit as Chief Executive.

"Following the Premier League verdict on this incident we now look to the FA as the game's governing body to act appropriately, pending discussions and recommendations from their Inclusion and Advisory Board meeting this afternoon."

The row has gone to the very top of British politics, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying the sexist emails highlighted the need for people to treat others with respect.

Cameron said he had not personally read the messages sent by Scudamore, but that high standards had to be maintained.

Asked if a minister would survive in their job if they admitted sexist behaviour, he told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I don't think they would.

"I have to be careful what I say because I haven't seen these specific emails, but...we have to set and keep high standards in politics.

"I have tried to enforce that in my own party."

He added: "I haven't actually seen the emails myself but obviously people should treat everybody else with respect."

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady insisted Scudamore "is categorically not sexist'', but said she was disappointed to learn of the emails.

The head of anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, Lord Herman Ouseley, said Cameron's statements showed the need for change in football.

Ouseley said: "The Prime Minister stated earlier today that he wouldn't tolerate these types of comments in his own cabinet. A decision like this and the way it was made reflects the dominance, strength and culture at the very top of the football pyramid."

Ouseley also claimed the Premier League's process in dealing with Scudamore was "flawed".

Ouseley said: "Richard Scudamore is one of the most successful and powerful men in world football. The outcome of the proceedings into the revealed emails and their contents leaves the status quo intact.

"The process adopted by the Premier League is a flawed one and there was only ever going to be one outcome. It is incumbent on the Premier League to put in place a proper, objective, fair and independent process for dealing with such important matters in future."

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