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  • Anita Abayomi

A panel full of female football pundits is not discrimination, it’s a breakthrough -

This Piece was Published by the Metro UK.

On Monday I saw a rather peculiar tweet by Rebekah Vardy, questioning why there was an all-female football panel debating the Women’s World Cup. ‘Umm what happened to equality,’ the tweet read.

Good question, Rebekah. What happened to equality in the Women’s World Cup? What happened to equality in the Men’s World Cup? In fact, what happened to equality in football?

In 2017, it was revealed that 88 per cent of Women’s Super League, earned just under £18,000 a year, which is abysmal in comparison to England captain Harry Kane, who earns a whopping £200,000 a week.

Equality is not about having equal male and female pundits sitting around a table to satisfy the cries of feminism (Picture: Twitter)

This gender imbalance is perpetuated in TV punditry – it is often, always men commentating.

So when we see four successful women discussing football as opposed to the conventional all-male panel; while Rebekah Vardy might call it discrimination, I call it a breakthrough.

Society has long struggled to accept the concept of positive discrimination being incorporated in sports, but it’s time to get over it.

Witnessing women discuss a topic explicitly dominated by men encourages a change of societal perspectives. It furthers the growth of Women in Football and accelerates the decline in gender roles; it may even bring an end to sexist remarks we are all too familiar with.

Equality is not about having equal male and female pundits sitting around a table to satisfy the cries of feminism; it runs deeper. It’s about equivocal respect, equal screen time and reciprocal energy and that will only be achieved if women commentators become the norm.

If I, as a woman share my views on the beautiful sport of football, whether it being men’s football or female football you better respect it and keep the same energy you’d have if you were discussing with another man.

We only have to take a quick retrospective glance at the Men’s World Cup last summer to understand why all women panels are so necessary and important.

When a woman bathes in her knowledge of football she is often met with shock – as shown in moments like Eniola Aluko’s perfect analysis on Costa Rica being met with Patrice Evra’s patronising applause last summer.

In the fight for equality, risking a possible repetition of Evra’s reaction by including more men in the discussion of the WWC renders the battle to a fallacy. Are women wrong to want to uplift themselves and celebrate other women in the game? Where else better to do this than at the Women’s World Cup?

There is the assumption that ladies who speak on football, whether they play or not, have something they want to prove. This is not the case.

Just like men, we enjoy watching the sport, we enjoying commentating on it, giving our own opinion on decisions made and that’s okay. Whether it is men’s football or women’s football, we should be given a platform to render our footballing voices.

If that means having an all-female panel for the World Cup, then so be it. We are the victims of gender inequality, therefore, we are allowed to do what it takes to overcome it. If this glorifies the over-representation of women then positive discrimination would finally create a footprint in the path for change.

The England vs Scotland match was one step in the several hundred that have been taken already. It should not stop there. It should not stop at punditry, it should not stop after the World Cup and it sure as hell should not stop to serve those uncomfortable with the concept.

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