In the Media

The Ched Evans case shows football's misogyny is alive and kicking | Julie Bindel

PUBLISHED April 29, 2012

Outside Leeds United's football stadium in the late 1970s, badges were sold with the slogan, "Leeds United ? More feared than the Yorkshire Ripper". Inside, the opposing team supporters would taunt the police with "Ripper 12, police nil" and sing: "One Yorkshire Ripper, there's only one Yorkshire Ripper."

Why am I harking back to this? Because hatred of women and casual, everyday sexism in football appears to be as prevalent now as it was all those years ago.

Never has it been more clearly expressed than after the conviction and imprisonment earlier this month of Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans for raping a 19-year-old woman.

Soon #JusticeForChed appeared on Twitter. Fellow Sheffield United footballer Connor Brown, among many other male football supporters, called the victim a slag and accused her of making a false allegation for money. In fact this brave teenage victim ? who has endured the ordeal of the criminal justice system and succeeded in convincing a jury beyond reasonable doubt that Evans was guilty of the offence ? has reportedly refused all offers of payment for her story.

On Saturday rumours circulated that some supporters at Bramall Lane would pay tribute to Evans with handclaps in the ninth and 35th minutes of the game (corresponding to his shirt number and goals he has scored this season). Apparently this was a damp squib with few taking part, but the fact it was suggested at all was because of the widespread support for a convicted rapist among the football fraternity.

While victim blaming in sexual assault cases is rife, the deep-rooted and widely accepted contempt of women by footballers and supporters is getting worse.

Will another victim of rape by a footballer dare to come forward after the Evans debacle? Why does the Football Association not come down like a ton of bricks on sexism in the game? Rather, it included Evans in their end of season honours list, two days after his conviction, despite protests from feminist groups and other decent folk.

When Liam Stacey, who tweeted racist and otherwise offensive comments about Fabrice Muamba, was convicted of a racially aggravated Public Order Act offence there was almost universal agreement that he was rightly convicted (although many considered his jail term too harsh). But when football supporters tweet the name of the victim and call her a scab, many re-tweet and affirm the misogyny.

There would be an outcry if the fans that clapped at Saturday's game in support of a rapist were arrested for a public order offence.

In 1993, the FA and the Commission for Racial Equality launched the Let's Kick Racism Out of Football campaign (which became the macho-sounding Kick It Out). The campaign against racism in football ? once so accepted and normalised that the BNP and NF would sign up members and give out racist propaganda outside stadiums ? has been spectacularly successful Why do football's governors have no commitment to slinging out sexism?

There have been countless allegations of rape against Premier League players over the years, and almost as soon as they surface so do the accusations that the complainants were making it up for the money and fame, just as some have claimed about Evans's victim. Who doesn't want to shag a footballer after all?

When footballers go to brothels, have women delivered to hotel rooms, visit lap-dancing clubs, or "harvest" local girls to line them up for group sex parties, it is not seen as evidence of misogyny.

Women who hang around hotels looking to pick up footballers are viewed as "goal-diggers" and groupies. Players view them with contempt and they are painted as slags who have no other purpose in life than to marry a rich man.

There exists a grotesque sex culture among young footballers, with "roasting" ? the seduction of young women into degrading group sex in which they are passed from player to player and often filmed by the participants ? a common and accepted practice.

Club management appears to not give a damn about the hideous sexism and general contempt for females being displayed by many young players, and we don't hear of educating these players about their sexual conduct within their duty of care. The phrase "boys will be boys" has particular and pernicious resonance among this group of macho, rich, entitled mini-gods.

The need to kick sexism out of football has gone into added time. Will the FA be brave enough to do it? I very much doubt it.

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