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Amy Strath: We are playing our own game – it is women’s football. We deserve to be treated with respect

Amy Strath
Amy Strath

Rising footballing star Amy Strath from Aberdeen has faced sexism at home and abroad.

The skilled defender has played at a high level across the whole of Scotland as well as in Iceland and the USA.

But despite her unquestionable talent, she has still been forced to endure sexist jibes designed to blunt her enthusiasm for the game.

‘Some of the comments did hurt’

The 25 year old said: “It has been very different wherever I have been.

“I played in America and Iceland. When I was in America, you had to work your butt off to prove yourself and bring in crowds.

“If we had an off game, we just got criticised. Some of the comments to your face – even from other male athletes – did hurt.

“You worked as hard as them if not harder. They would say we did not have the physique or weren’t strong enough genetically to keep up.

“There were even comments – should we make the pitch smaller, play fewer minutes, just little digs to put us down.

Female footballer Amy Strath
Amy Strath

“A few of the harder ones to take are maybe when you were finishing a game or getting taken off for a sub.

“It would be the comments – ‘get a better physique, get tighter shorts, you don’t fill them’. About 60 or 70% of the comments are that sexual kind of way.

Amy’s experience tallies with the results of our exclusive investigation into sexism blighting the women and girls game.

Our survey among players, fans and officials shows nearly 70% of people surveyed had experienced or witnessed discriminatory behaviour.

Some 54% said the football industry does not do enough to reduce discriminatory behaviour towards women in football.

Around one in five people believed football was poor at attracting more females to the sport.

Even after the success of Scotland’s women’s national team, many felt that women’s sports did not get as much media coverage as the men’s game – one of the main barriers to stopping women taking part in sport in general.

Most of our survey’s respondents were female, under the age of 45, from Aberdeen, Tayside, Fife, Angus, the north-east of Scotland and the Highlands.

Amy’s reports of sexualised comments confirms our probe’s findings.

A DC Thomson online search expert discovered thousands of online searches for sexist, pornographic and objectifying material related to women’s football.

In the last year, there were around 4,390 searches for ‘sexy women footballers’ and ‘women football nude’ per month in the UK.

The news comes as no surprise to our survey respondents who reported sexualised, inappropriate comments and abuse related to their physiques.

Shocking search results

Jamie Cameron, search engine optimisation editor at DC Thomson, said: “I found some pretty shocking results.

“I was doing some keyword research for the series about sexism in women’s football. I noticed pretty quickly that a lot of the key search terms related to women’s football were all to do with objectifying women and the female body.

“When I compared this to men’s football key search terms, the men’s football key search terms were things like results, fixtures and players.”

Jamie found ‘sexy woman footballers’ was the 34th most popular search relating to women’s football.

Approximately 2.5% of the search queries relating to women’s football could be considered as sexist or objectifying women.

Pushed to your limits

Personal trainer Amy took a short break from football after playing at an elite level for Fylkir FC in Iceland left her “tired”.

Amy Strath is a female footballer and has experienced sexism and abuse on and off the pitch
Amy Strath

But she is back in the game, signing up for Montrose in January. She said: “It is quite difficult dealing with the comments.

“You have got to hold your tongue but it pushes to your limits. I don’t understand how people can type these things on social media.

“That could be your daughter or sister. It is horrible. It is not an easy thing to fix. I don’t think it is ever going to be gone.

“We are playing our own game – it is women’s football. We deserve to be treated with respect.

“If we keep working hard and digging deep and putting our heart and soul into it, it will get better. They will start to see what we can do.”

Anyone who witnesses sexist abuse, harassment or discrimination, can report it in a number of ways.

You can report discrimination within Scottish grassroots football to the Scottish Football Association.

Or search for Scottish FA Grassroots in Google Play or App store.

Also, the Her Game Too anti-sexism campaign has an anonymous online form.

If you feel the form of discrimination you witnessed either on the pitch or online could be a hate crime, you may also report it to Police Scotland via 101.

Read more from this series


Words and interviews by Sophie Goodwin and Stephen Stewart

Story design by Cheryl Livingstone

Graphics by Carly Gilchrist

Data visualisations by Emma Morrice

Video by Drew Farrell, Kim Cessford and Gregor Aiken