Following her successful stint as a pundit for the BBC during the World Cup, Alex Scott made her Super Sunday bow at the weekend and, continuing where she left off, was forthright, knowledgeable, and had clearly done her research. A good, solid debut.
You’d think, then, that a highly successful female athlete taking on one of the big chairs of football broadcasting would be cause for celebration. But no. People lost their shit. They lost each other’s shit—specifically Graeme Souness, who seethes his way through the programme. Of course, Graeme Souness always seethes his way through the programme. Graeme Souness has seethed his way through life. Graeme Souness is a champion seether. Yet this had a different edge: you could practically see on his face how hard he was clenching his arsehole in rage, his mouth pressed into a hard line, only opening and closing slightly when he wanted to finish Scott’s sentences in an attempt to interject with an intelligent point, when really, he was really just speaking over her instead. Clearly, he couldn’t deal with her presence. His clenched sphincter might have stopped him literally losing his shit, but it still poured out of his ears and eyes and down his face.
What made for exceptionally painful and uncomfortable viewing was Souness’ inability to hold any sort of eye contact with Scott as she spoke. This happened again and again, on all occasions, for the entire afternoon. It takes a particular kind of individual to make a new colleague feel that uncomfortable on their first day. On Sunday, Scott spoke the language of football. Would you expect anything less from the winner of nine league trophies, seven FA cup titles, The Women’s Super League, and The Women’s Champion League? But it wasn’t good enough for Souey.
The introduction of a woman to Sky Sports roster of pundits couldn’t come at a better or more crucial time. If anything, it’s overdue—really, super overdue. Contrary to the misconception that was spreading on Twitter during Super Sunday, Scott wasn’t there to fill a quota or contribute to an arbitrary percentage; she was there because she was qualified.
Are we still really spinning the story where women are only in certain positions because they’re female? Honestly? Really? In big, big 2019?
After her appearance, Alex Scott took to social media to share her gratitude: ‘thank you to everyone for all the messages and love today! WHAT A DAY!! #SuperSunday @SkySportsPL The journey continues #pinchingmyself.’ The comments below were rightly filled with responses of encouragement, appreciation, and praise with one woman replying: “Congrats, Alex. This warmed my heart and offered me hope for equal opportunities”.
But in amongst all the cheering, there were a few individuals that emanated Small Dick Energy, shouting about how women weren’t qualified to talk about men’s football. As if 22 people kicking a ball about can ever be anything other than 22 people kicking a ball about. She’s played at the very top—at a much higher level than any of the people who decided to slate her—but that didn’t stop them. Someone on Twitter literally edited a screenshot of Alex Scott on top of a photo of a kitchen… It’s just sad. I feel sorry for you, like, I hope you’re okay over there where you are ‘cause it must be shit living with such an intensely fragile masculinity, one set to collapse at any moment.
It’s these small, casual, sexist comments that highlight how far we still have to go in terms of equality. What’s more alarming is that these remarks aren’t just coming from men. Women are also jumping on the bandwagon to express their disinterest in seeing a female pundit. Women tearing other women down. What a time to be alive, I tell you that.
“I’m all for equality and all that bollocks, me… but get that Alex Scott off super Sunday, fucking women! Enough to make me cancel my subscription, ffs.”
Lovely that Leann—really brilliant. Thank you for your constructive input.
After that, and a tirade of kitchen-based jokes, you’d think it couldn’t get any worse, but, somehow, it always does:
“Why is Alex Scott on Super Sunday? Fuck sake. I hate this world you know. Why can’t men just have a little something to themselves?”
According to Women’s Aid—a charity who are working to end domestic abuse against women and children—it’s micro-aggressive comments not unlike those from Jake on Twitter which create a sexist and misogynistic culture in football. Lancaster University revealed that incidences of domestic violence increased by almost 40% when England lost a World Cup match this year.
Those kinds of statistics are scary. It might seem like a bit of banter to say it on Twitter, or Instagram, or anywhere on social media but hate breeds hate, on average two women are killed each week in the UK as a result of domestic abuse. People online need to pull their heads out of their arses.
And people high up in football need to do the same. We aren’t going to forget about Souness's inability to look at Scott when she was speaking—or that horrific, sarcastic, slow clap from Patrice Evra during ITV’s World Cup coverage, or when David Moyes told Vicki Sparks that she might get a slap even though she was a woman…
Having Alex Scott as a pundit on Sky Sports is something to applaud and celebrate and is a gigantic leap towards equality in the football world. It’s not a competition or a question of whether one side is better than the other, it’s about creating a space for women and men to be the same while also showing young girls and boys that this harmonious relationship on the TV is normal, not restricted, and completely achievable.
Which is all great, it’s really, really great, but if people are still shocked by a women talking about football on a Sunday, where do we go from here?If you've been affected by anything discussed in this article, contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline.