Women and Sport

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2006 National Women's Conference
27 October 2005

Conference notes the success of Euro 2005, the EUFA (European Football Associations) women’s tournament played in England last summer. Conference applauds the BBC for its comprehensive coverage of the event, with both live matches and highlights on every evening games were played. This brought the women’s game to a much wider audience and at the same time as demonstrating the players’ undoubted ability and skill, gave much needed weight to its credibility as a spectator sport.

However,Conference is concerned at the gratuitous and blatantly sexist comments made by both the Federation Internationale de Football Associations (FIFA) and EUFA presidents, Sepp Blatter and Lennart Johansson respectively. The former suggested that the players should wear “more feminine clothes…..” including “for example, tighter shorts”. The latter, in trying to mitigate the justifiable outrage at such statements actually compounded it by suggesting women players should take advantage of “wearing rain soaked shirts and generally looking lovely” to secure sponsorship deals.

Both men were roundly criticised for their neanderthal and demeaning remarks which showed a complete disregard and lack of respect for the ability of Europe’s top women players by attempting to portray them as a marketing opportunity and a ‘bit of eye candy’ rather than as top sports people.

Conference condemns Blatter and Johansson for their insensitive, thoughtless, sexist and disrespectful remarks and expresses its concern that the presidents of two of the world’s most powerful sporting bodies should be espousing such views which so clearly belittle women thereby undermining our ability to have our sporting prowess taken seriously.

Conference therefore calls on the National Women’s Committee to:

1)write to the presidents of the FIFA and EUFA condemning their remarks and seeking a public apology and an assurance that there will be no recurrence;

2)reaffirm its support for sportswomen and publicise this through appropriate channels;

3)seek the support of the National Executive Council for UNISON’s continued sponsorship of women in sport.