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There is nothing PC about Gordon Parks article on Women’s Football

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Women’s football is the fastest growing sport in the world, yet if you read Gordon Parks article in the Daily Record today you would think that it isn’t worth bothering out. Women playing in men’s shorts, spending money on women footballers of all generations when it would be better to spend the money on male footballers. He may have tried to skirt around his blatant sexism but he needs a reality check.

He started his piece off with a question asking name two current female Scottish athletes. How about Eilidh Child and Lee McConnell? Then it was name one member of the current Scotland women’s football squad? Just because he cannot name one that doesn’t mean women’s football should be ridiculed. I can’t name one footballer playing in the French top flight currently off the top of my head, should that be ridiculed?

Scotzine have been covering Women’s football for around four years now, in depth over the past two years. In fact we have provided more coverage of the women’s game in one year than the Daily Record has in its entire history. In fact the Record’s coverage of the women’s game is non-existent compared to our coverage and likewise that of their bitter industry rivals, The Scottish Sun.

So it is no surprise that a Daily Record Sports journalist has no clue about the Women’s game.

But hold on, they did cover Scotland’s EURO 2013 qualifiers against Spain, likewise Glasgow City’s Champions League last 32 and last 16 games two seasons ago. Why? It’s not only fans who can be classed as gloryhunters.

Why shouldn’t the Scottish FA and their partners spend £1.2 million per year to fund the women’s game? Would he rather that money be paid towards another group of blazers in the corridors of power at Hampden? Or would it be better frittered away on a pay-off to a failed Scotland manager like Craig Levein?

The resources handed to the women’s game from the Scottish FA go to produce the role models and stars of Women’s sport that Parks is oblivious too.

Any potential footballer – no matter their sex – should look towards women’s football for their role models rather than men’s football. Men’s football is plagued by egotistical, money grabbing and self-important footballers throughout the levels- although I do have to state that these type of footballers are in the minority in the Scottish game. Are Leigh Griffiths and Garry O’Connor role models? How about Allan McGregor and Barry Ferguson, were they the type of players you wanted your kids to look up too when their drunken escapades and reactions were thrown in the face of the press and the fans?

How about the numerous rape allegations, convictions, GBH and drink driving convictions that occur on a weekly basis down in England? Then we have the child sex scandal that is rocking French football at the minute? What great role models they are!

Lets turn our attentions to women football players. Top flight players go to the gym in the morning, they then head to work – full-time work at that – before going to training that night. These players are the real models, they work full-time so that they can play football – a game that they love to play.

Women’s football is not about how much money players get each week, it is not overshadowed by scandals and crimes perpetrated by its players and its fans like men’s football is. It is all about the football and nothing else, it is where most football fans want the men’s game to be like. A women’s football game is where you can take your family and kids too, without fear of them hearing words that your mum would have washed your mouth out with soap if you repeated them.

Men’s football is littered with foul language, vicious hatred and much more from fans towards opposition players and to match officials. In the Women’s game there is no hatred, no viciousness and foul language is at a premium.

In fact during Sunday’s game between SWPL champions Glasgow City and English champions Arsenal, one spectator shouted at the referee claiming the player – Rachel Yankey – had dived. In the fan’s own words: “Ref, how’s that a free kick she went down in installments!” Now compare and contrast that to the fans at men’s games – they wouldn’t be so polite that is for sure.

With players like Kim Little, Jennifer Beattie, Gemma Fay, Rachel Small and Rachel Corsie – any kid wanting to be a footballer should look to any of these players to look up to as real role models.

Another women’s footballer to look up to, to laud is a World Cup winner and she happens to be in the Scottish FA Hall of Fame and is Scottish born and bred. Her name is Rose Reilly. Maybe Gordon should do a bit of research on Reilly, here is our article on the Scottish legend.

He then states: “Just because you can’t name a single female tartan talent doesn’t make you ignorant, it’s down to a shocking lack of feminine Scottish role models in sport.”

Sorry Gordon, you are speaking about yourself and maybe some of your fellow journalists at the Daily Record sports desk. That is the real scandal, those who are deemed as top Sports journalists in Scotland, cannot name any Scottish sports female role models.

Scotzine do not cover Women’s football for sexual equality, we cover the game because it deserves to be covered just like the SPL, the SFL, the Junior game deserves to be covered.

Parks then intimated that a straw poll was conducted in the office. And that it was a damning verdict, how is the opinions of sports journalists who have never been to a Scotland women’s national team game damning? Therefore how can they state the players have a lack of technical and artistic ability?

The players can still fire home long-range shots, free kicks, do the Cruyff turn, put the ball through the legs of opposition players and dribble the length of the pitch. Just like their male counterparts.

The crux of the matter seems to be Gordon being snubbed by SFA’s head of girls’ and women’s football Sheila Begbie, who referred Parks to the Hampden media team instead of bowing down to King Parks and his demands. He may be able to work his magic or his demands on those within the men’s game but why should the Women’s game kowtow to a journalist who has never written anything on the women’s game, who has never attended a women’s football game in his puff?

Compare and contrast Gordon Park – a journalist with no knowledge of the women’s game – to that of Alan Campbell who works at The Herald. If you want to read the best coverage of the Women’s game – outwith Scotzine of course – then I urge everyone to read Campbell’s work. He is a journalist who knows the Women’s game inside and out. Plus he has no issues with reaching Sheila Begbie, Anna Signeul or anyone else within the Women’s game in Scotland.

Turning our attention back to the pre-season friendly between Glasgow City and Arsenal at Petershill Park. Who were representing the mainstream media then? No one. So how could they know what happened at the game? Through Scotzine and through another website who was represented at the game also.

I have been to games and reported on games, producing an in-depth report into said game and post-match comments from players and management. The Record, if they ever publish an article on the Women’s game, rely on a press release sent out by Glasgow City general manager Laura Montgomery, who has at club level done more than most to promote the women’s game in Scotland.

Even when an article is printed by the Daily Record – which labels itself Scotland’s newspaper – it is at best 100 words if that. Shocking from a newspaper that classes itself as one of the best in the country.

Anyone interested in the Women’s game should read The Herald, the Scottish Sun and to a lesser extent The Scotsman – not to mention ourselves.

City have played Arsenal twice in two years. Last year they went down 4-2 to an Arsenal side that is professional in every aspect of their game and have the luxury of not having to work full-time as they are paid to play football. This year, Arsenal who will this season be managed by Scottish coach Shelley Kerr, were at full strength beat a depleted City side 5-0, who not only saw three of their best players leave the club since last year’s game, to sign professional terms on the continent, but also played without six first team regulars who were out injured.

But Parks would not know this.

As for credibility of coaches in the women’s game, has he spoken to any? He singles out City manager Eddie Wolecki Black for criticism as he writes an article for a ‘national newspaper’ and ‘refuses to use that platform to promote women’s football’.

First of all, Eddie writes a weekly article for the Record’s rival The Scottish Sun, and having read many of Eddie’s articles he speaks a lot better of the game in general than Park ever does. After reading Park’s abysmal piece, I asked Eddie for a comment.

On his article, Eddie stated that his weekly article ‘will have either the column dedicated to the woman’s game or an experience I have had and I relate it to the women’s game’.

He added: “I can discuss whatever issues I wish, usually I make it current. Bear in mind it is pre-season. Why would you tie someone to one topic? A few weeks ago I wrote 1000 words about the Potsdam tournament.”

Does Eddie lack credibility? He managed in the men’s game with Montrose and played with Montrose and Deveronvale. If Parks actually sat down with Eddie or any other manager in the Scottish top flight then they would certainly make him eat his words over their so-called lack of credibility.

Parks then labels the organisers of London 2012 as pulling the wool over the eyes of the British public tat the event was a British-wide event. In terms of the Olympics, the Great Britain women’s football team inspired thousands if not tens of thousands of fans and future players. They overshadowed their male counterparts in both following and performances on the park.

They played four games, won three and lost once. They beat New Zealand in their first game 1-0, in front of 24,445 fans in Cardiff. They followed that up by defeating Cameroon 3-0 in front of 31,141 fans again in Cardiff. And a British record attendance of 70,584 fans for a Women’s game saw the GB women beat Brazil 1-0 to reach the Quarter Finals, where they eventually succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to Canada, who finished third.

So I hope that anyone who is interested in the women’s game and haven’t been to a game yet, ignores Parks sad excuse of an article and take a game in themselves and make their own minds up.

Laura Montgomery, who will be on STV’s Scotland Tonight programme a 10.30pm tonight, passed comment on the article earlier today.

The City general manager said: “I am actually embarrassed for the Daily Record and Gordon Parks. To say no-one can name Scottish female sports stars as a sports office is cringe worthy. Is it because they don’t actually report on any to let the public know?

“It isn’t lack of info. I send them constant info on women’s football which they ignore. I am sure all female sports suffer the same rejection from their office. How about they gave it regular back page space? Or any space?

“At the Olympics track and field, no male Scots made the team, yet we had five Scottish females selected – Eilidh Child, Lynsey Sharp, Lee McConnell, Eilish McColgan and Freya Murray. Eilidh is a Sun columnist, which probably also further explains their cheap dig at their rivals. It isn’t lack of ability which denies young girls female sporting role models, its journalists like Gordon Park.”

Damning words from Montgomery indeed, an individual I both respect in what she does in the women’s game in general, not to mention her tireless work to help push Glasgow City and for that matter Women’s football forward.

Parks is right in one respect, the resources available to the women’s game in Scotland are not ‘proportionate to the interest and talent in the game’. They are not enough. If you speak to anyone in the women’s game today, the resource afforded to the game in general are not enough – but they are gradually getting better.

Maybe just maybe Pars should stick to the comfy press boxes of the Scottish top flight, where he usually resides, or following Rangers in the Third Division, rather than comment on an issue he has no clue about. Or was it simply an article to meet his weekly contributions to a newspaper with dwindling sales and had nothing to write about in the men’s game?

Going on a few comments from many of the female footballers that Scotzine follow on twitter, they have lost many more readers today. I wonder how Parks will backtrack on tonight’s show?

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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