This morning’s Sunday Mirror revealed shocking remarks made by Richard Scudamore, Chief Executive of the Premier League and arguably English football’s most powerful leader. Scudamore’s private emails contain a series of totally inappropriate comments about female colleagues and other women which appear to completely undermine his credibility as an advocate for women’s football and draw into question his true views on the role of women in the game.
Others in football, most notably players and coaches, have faced FA charges of bringing the game into disrepute by making discriminatory comments. It will be a test of the Football Association’s strength as a regulator to see if it has the courage to take steps against a figure as significant as Richard Scudamore.
FA Rule E3 states as to the conduct of anyone involved in football:
“(1) A Participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute or use any one, or a combination of, violent conduct, serious foul play, threatening, abusive, indecent or insulting words or behaviour.”
“(2) A breach of Rule E3(1) is an “Aggravated Breach” where it includes a reference to any one or more of the following :- ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation or disability.”
FA Rule E4 states:
“A Participant shall not carry out any act of discrimination by reason of ethnic origin, colour, race, nationality, religion or belief, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, disability, age, pregnancy, maternity, marital status or civil partnership….”
On a plain reading of those Rules, there must surely be a case to answer, making Scudamore potentially liable to a charge of improper conduct, aggravated by the clearly discriminatory nature of his comments.
It will now be interesting to see what, if any, steps the FA takes to challenge his conduct. Whether a charge is raised or not, some action must be taken to demonstrate that women are welcome in football, on the field of play, as coaches and officials, and in the leadership of clubs, leagues, and the FA.
Edward Lord is a member of the Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board and Chair of the London FA Inclusion Advisory Group, writing in a personal capacity.
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