Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Neil Drysdale: Scottish Football Writers’ Association must do much more than apologise

Sky Sports journalist Eilidh Barbour spoke out after the SFWA event (Photo: Chris McCluskie/ProSports/Shutterstock)
Sky Sports journalist Eilidh Barbour spoke out after the SFWA event (Photo: Chris McCluskie/ProSports/Shutterstock)

Sports dinners and other similar functions often serve as a reminder that, for many people, diversity and equal opportunity are alien concepts.

Back in the 1990s, when I worked in Edinburgh, I went to several rugby club dinners and usually left with a bitter taste, which had nothing to do with the food and drink on offer.

So, I can’t say I’m surprised that controversy has erupted over comments made by a speaker at the Scottish Football Writers’ Association (SFWA) awards dinner at the weekend. This prompted a walkout by some of the guests and has sparked a subsequent apology from the SFWA, though the latter was hardly an outright condemnation of what occurred.

But, then again, many people in the world of sport still harbour opinions which belong in the days when it was perfectly acceptable to indulge in sexist and racist “humour”.
If there has been progress made, it frequently disappears once the alcohol starts flowing and the boundaries are pushed back on what would be considered reasonable behaviour.

And, just as the tribalism and sectarianism which takes place around Old Firm match days has become almost normalised, the perpetrators dismiss any concerns about bigotry, chauvinism or homophobia as “political correctness gone mad”.

Views are changing but women are still ignored and denigrated

I’m not arguing that the majority of people at these dinners share the views of those who believe it’s OK to scrape the barrel for laughs by arguing it’s “just banter”.

Indeed, in recent years, the welcome increase in coverage of women’s football and rugby has gradually changed attitudes among many in Scotland. It’s 2022, after all, not 1822.

There are many talented female journalists and gifted broadcasters, including Eilidh Barbour, who condemned the comments at the SFWA dinner. But they are still very much in a minority compared to those who either ignore women’s sport or actively denigrate it.

Keyboard warriors – I prefer to call them troglodyte typists – on social media have made life difficult and often unpleasant for any women in the political spotlight. These cowardly chauvinists are the first to use words like “woke” to criticise anybody who calls them out.

Not enough for SFWA to wring their hands

Sport, as we’ve seen in the last 12 months – with the Azeem Rafiq cricket scandal, abuse directed at tennis star Naomi Osaka for raising mental health concerns, and David Goodwillie, found to be a rapist in a civil case, being signed by Raith Rovers – is still stuck in a rut whereby too many players and pundits are scared of speaking out for fear of a backlash.

The speaker in question used highly inflammatory racist and sexist language, and had some of us squirming in our seats. To our shame, we didn’t get up and walk out

It was the same in rugby 25 years ago, when I attempted to write a piece about remarks made by a former Scotland internationalist at a dinner and was told to stand down.

The speaker in question used highly inflammatory racist and sexist language, and had some of us squirming in our seats. To our shame, we didn’t get up and walk out.

Tennis player Naomi Osaka was heavily criticised when she spoke out about her social anxiety in 2021 (Photo: Rena Schild/Shutterstock)

But I did decide I wouldn’t go back to any of these events while the antediluvian tendency were having their fun, directing smutty comments at the same female staff who were serving their food and tolerating remarks which belonged in the sewer.

A lot of things have changed for the better since the 1990s. But there’s much still to be done. And, if anything, people such as Donald Trump have pushed society back to the past.

It’s not enough for the SFWA to wring their hands and carry out a review. They need to explain how on earth this nonsense was allowed to happen and, if that means their officials being replaced, it’s a small price to pay.


Neil Drysdale writes for the DC Thomson past times team and is also an author

Sophie Goodwin: I was too scared to call out abuse in women’s football before. But that’s what I’m doing now

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

Conversation

[[title_reg]]

Please enter the name you would like to appear on your comments. (It doesn’t have to be your real name - but nothing rude please, we are a polite bunch!) Use a combination of eight or more characters that includes an upper and lower case character, and a number.

By registering with [[site_name]] you agree to our Terms and Conditions and our Privacy Policy

Or sign up with

Facebook Google

[[content_reg_complete]]

[[title_login]]

Or login with

Forgotten your password? Reset it

[[title]]