Mumbai Mirror is writing a new chapter in women’s soccer—nay, girl’s soccer—in Mumbai.
The tabloid—in concert with Western India Football Association (WIFA) and Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA)—has organised a Girls Soccer League beginning this Saturday at the Cooperage.
Over 100 teams are participating. The aim is to promote the game at the grassroots.
WIFA CEO Henry Menezes said:
“WIFA has successfully conducted coach education and grassroot programmes. It is important to get such an event for the kids to display their talent, especially girls. Even at national level our girls have started to do much better than boys.
Hopefully once this becomes a success, this tournament will become a year-on affair.
We are getting non-stop enquiries. It is so promising. It will be hard to accommodate everybody. But look at the interest. It’s tremendous. We need to set up trend with this tournament.”
The rink tournament is five-a-side.
NGOs, private clubs, local sides and, of course, schools will take part in three categories:
Under-14, Under-16 and Open.
The Mirror Girls Soccer League will be one of the largest sporting events dedicated solely to the fairer sex.
The Mumbai Mirror is a part of the Times of India group of publications.
Women’s soccer is played in 176 countries internationally.
It is a little known fact that women’s football was banned by the British Football Association in 1921 on the grounds that it was distasteful.
This led to the formation of the English Ladies Football Association. Matches were played on rugby grounds.
The FA’s ban was finally lifted in 1971.
The first FIFA Women’s World Cup was held in 1991.
Women players do not make as much money as the men; their earnings on the average are a seventh of their male counterparts.
Coverage of the sport, too, is minuscule.
According to an article in the Guardian, “stories about men’s sports outnumbered those about women’s sports by 20 to one in March 2013 in six national titles – the Sun, Mirror, Times, Telegraph, Mail and Express.”
Jane Martinson wrote:
“The arguments usually put forward for the lack of coverage is that no one is interested in women’s sport, yet the interest shown on social media and among TV viewers suggests otherwise. Women’s football got its own series on BBC2 for a bit, while the women’s football World Cup final of 2011 was at the time the most-tweeted event in the history of Twitter.
Previous research has shown that sports journalism has one of the lowest percentages of female journalists, with a Women in Journalism study three years ago revealing that just 3% of all sport stories in a given month were written by women.”
Their cause was not helped by FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s comments in 2004 when he said:
“Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts.
Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?”
The remarks only highlighted Blatter’s ignorance.
Pauline Cope, the then England and Charlton goalkeeper, responded:
“We don’t use a lighter ball for one thing, and to say we should play football in hotpants is plain ridiculous.
It’s completely irresponsible for a man in a powerful position to make comments like this.”
Then Fulham manager Marieanne Spacey added:
“Surely it’s about skill and tactical ability first and how people look second. Ten years ago we did play in tighter shorts. Nobody paid attention then.”
Movies like ‘Bend it like Beckham’ have engendered interest in the sport amongst young girls over the past decade.
The Indian women are ranked 56 as against the men who are a lowly 167.
With some luck, hard work and better organization, India could have a women’s team representing the country at the FIFA Women’s World Cup much before the men.
That would really be something. Wouldn’t it?
Disclaimer: The writer is in no way connected or associated with Mumbai Mirror or its sister publications.
To be downgraded—an euphemism for ‘fired’—for simply doing your job on the field is egregious enough.
To be completely ignored during a so-called ‘investigation’ into the incident that led to your demotion is simply adding insult to injury.
Eva Carneiro must be wondering what hit her when the wrath of Jose Mourinho in all its ‘special’ splendor erupted on her when she treated Eden Hazard during a Chelsea game a couple of months ago.
She was labelled ‘naive’ then by the club boss; she must certainly feel that way now that she’s no longer part of the club.
Carneiro refused to accept a shunting to the backstage preferring to tender her resignation instead.
The medic is also considering legal action against her erstwhile employers.
Mourinho is alleged to have called the doctor a ‘filha da puta (daughter of a whore)’.
The allegations were denied by the ‘Special One’. He said he had actually yelled ‘filho da puta’ (son of a bitch)’.
The Chelsea honcho has since been let off by the testimony of a Portuguese lip-reader.
Carrneiro was scathing in her response:
“I was surprised to learn that the FA was allegedly investigating the incident of 8th of August via the press. I was at no stage requested by the FA to make a statement.
I wonder whether this might be the only formal investigation in this country where the evidence of the individuals involved in the incident was not considered relevant. Choosing to ignore some of the evidence will surely influence the outcome of the findings.
Last season I had a similar experience at a game at West Ham FC, where I was subject to verbal abuse. Following complaints by the public, the FA produced a communication to the press saying there had been no sexist chanting during this game. At no time was I approached for a statement despite the fact that vile, unacceptable, sexually explicit abuse was clearly heard.
It is incidents such as these and the lack of support from the football authorities that make it so difficult for women in the game.”
Football Association board member Heather Rabbatt was sympathetic to Carneiro’s cause despite Mourinho being cleared of the charge of discriminatory comments by the FA’s investigating committee.
The FA, in a released statement, claimed that they were “satisfied that the words used do not constitute discriminatory language under FA Rules.”
“Furthermore, both the words used… and the video evidence, do not support the conclusion that the words were directed at any person in particular. Consequently…the FA will take no further action in relation to this matter.”
Women In Football were not so conciliatory.
“We believe it is appalling that her professionalism and understanding of football were subsequently called into question by manager Jose Mourinho and it threatened to undermine her professional reputation.
We also believe that Dr Carneiro’s treatment and ultimate departure from Chelsea FC sends out a worrying and alienating message to the already small numbers of female medical staff working in the national game.”
Rabbatts, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, said:
“I have spoken to her in the last few days. She felt she had support and it’s very important; as you can imagine this is a terrible time for her.
Up until 8 August she was one of the most highly respected medics in her profession and at the moment she is out of the game she’s loved. I hope, with all of us learning lessons around these issues, that she will come back to the game in future.
I can’t go into what her ambitions and aspirations are but I know how much she loved her job and cares for the players. Becoming a highly-qualified doctor takes years of training, she was years at Chelsea, and I’m sure she doesn’t want to be lost to the game.
And we don’t want to lose her from the game. There are so few women in these professions that when people like her leave the game, it’s a real loss to so many other women and girls who aspire to play a role.
As I said in my statement, I was disappointed by how it was handled and I hope there are lessons for the future in how these very significant issues that affect the whole game are tackled.
There is something broader here. There must be really enforceable guidance so that no medic feels there can be any interference when they are called onto the field of play.
Remember, Dr Eva Carneiro did nothing wrong – in fact, if she had not gone onto the field of play, she would have been in breach of her own [General Medical Council] guidance.
We love the game for the strong passions but when that tips over into abusing somebody, ridiculing them, referencing them as a ‘secretary’, I do not believe that’s acceptable.”
Rabbatts’ publicly aired opinion triggered a response from FA chairman Greg Dyke.
Writing to the FA Council members, Dyke said:
“There have been some well-documented issues of late around equality and inclusion in the game, an issue where it is vital we continue to show clear leadership.
I felt the handling of the case of the Chelsea doctor, Eva Carneiro, was a good example of this. We supported Heather Rabbatts’ strong statement on the matter earlier in the month.
Personally I don’t think Mr Mourinho comes well out of the whole saga – he clearly made a mistake in the heat of a game, and should have said so and apologised.
Instead he has said very little and Miss Carneiro has lost her job.
Our regulatory team have investigated this and whilst Mr Mourinho has breached no rules it was clearly a failure of his personal judgement and public behaviour. This should be seen as such by the game.”
The FA, on their part, claim that they contacted Carneiro’s lawyers for a statement. Carneiro was still with Chelsea at the time.
FA chief executive Martin Glenn said:
“We have never received any information or complaint from Dr Carneiro.
Including in written correspondence with her lawyers, it has been made explicitly clear that if Dr Carneiro had evidence to provide or wished to make a complaint she was more than welcome to do so. That route remains open.”
Mourinho was uncharacteristically reticent at his weekly press conference.
“For the past two months I didn’t open my mouth and I’m going to keep it like this. One day I will speak and I will choose a day.
I’m quiet about it for a long time. I read and I listen and I watch and I’m quiet. My time to speak will arrive when I decide.”
What he said:
“When I was growing up we used to call the Chinese ‘chingalings’. We weren’t being disrespected [sic]. We used to say: ‘We’re going to eat in chingalings.’ The Chinese weren’t offended by that. That was the name everyone in Wigan called it [the first Chinese cafe in Wigan].”
Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan puts his other foot in his mouth with his comments regarding the Chinese community in England.
It was only last month that Whelan told the Guardian that “Jewish people chase money more than everybody else”.
The resulting storm saw the club lose two of its sponsors, Premier Range and Ipro.
Whelan defended his remarks thus:
“It’s telling the truth. Jewish people love money, English people love money; we all love money.”
Whelan was then defending his hiring of Malky Mackay as Wigan’s manager.
Mackay was under investigation by the Football Association for alleged racism and anti-Semitism over his email and text exchanges while in charge of Cardiff City.
One of Mackay’s texts or emails described Cardiff City owner, the Malaysian Vincent Tan, as a chink.
Another referred to the Jewish football agent, Phil Smith, as “a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers.”
Whelan also said:
“If any Englishman said he has never called a Chinaman a chink he is lying. There is nothing bad about doing that. It is like calling the British Brits, or the Irish paddies.”
Simon Johnson, chief executive at the Jewish Leadership Council, said:
“Unfortunately Mr Mackay and now Mr Whelan have referred to some of the worst old-fashioned tropes which have been used in the past as the basis of anti-Semitism and stereotyping of Jewish people. Mackay used offensive language to insult a fellow participant in football using a tawdry racial stereotype.”
Wong, director of the Manchester Chinese Centre, said:
“I remember at school in the 70s a skinhead kicking me, calling me ‘chinky, chinky,’. It has stopped now; things have changed for the better. We have legal protection against racism and that is important; it is not political correctness. As a football manager, this man should not have said it.”
The British Chinese Project termed Whelan’s latest comments highly offensive.
A statement read:
“Once again, Mr Whelan, rather distressingly, believes he can speak on behalf of Chinese people. His comments are extremely unhelpful in our fight to end discrimination and racism against Chinese people in the UK. Once more, he is using a public platform to tell a wide audience what Chinese people find offensive.
Contrary to what Mr Whelan may believe, the vast majority of our community deem the terms ‘chink’ and ‘chingaling’ highly offensive. For many in the Chinese community these words hold deep emotional resonance, as they are often used in conjunction with racial violence, harassment and hate crimes.
Therefore, to say that ‘there is nothing wrong’ with using such terms or that Chinese people ‘aren’t offended’ by their use, demonstrates a dangerous level of ignorance. We have noticed that Mr Whelan has truly gone out of his way to apologise to the Jewish community, it is a shame that the same level of apology hasn’t been extended to the Chinese community. We can assure him that we are just as angry and just as offended as the Jewish community.”
Wigan, meanwhile, responded on-line saying:
“Wigan Athletic are reminding supporters that it is illegal to swear or use racist, homophobic or sexist language. The club has a zero tolerance on this and any supporter found to be using inappropriate language runs the risk of being ejected from the match.”
What he said:
“Not all Mexicans have a moustache, not all black people jump high and not all Jewish people love money.”
Irreverent Italian striker Mario Balotelli is in the news again for all the wrong reasons.
The Liverpool forward stirred up some soup for himself with a controversial post on Instagram.
Balotelli was quick to delete his post in the face of a barrage of on-line and offline criticism.
And was even quicker to attempt damage control.
His first tweeted response:
( my Mom is jewish so all of u shut up please)—
Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) December 01, 2014
He followed it with:
I apologize if I’ve offended anyone. The post was meant to be anti-racist with humour. I now understand that (...) http://t.co/UlNeNlEz9M—
Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) December 02, 2014
Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out has forwarded the offending post to the Football Association. FA has set a deadline of 18:00 GMT Friday the 12th for the Italian to provide a cogent defence for his anti-Semitic remark.
Speaking to BBC, a Liverpool spokesman said:
“We are aware of the posting which has since been promptly deleted by the player. We will be speaking to the player about the issue.”
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said:
“I don’t know hardly anything about it, I have been busy getting the team ready for this game.
I will probably find out more about it.”
Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson, a former FA executive, said:
“We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found. We call upon the FA to investigate this offensive social media post and to take action if appropriate if we are to succeed in kicking racism out of football.”
Sports media trainer Alec Wilkinson added his bit:
“There are those that are famous, earn lots of money, with a sky-high profile, who think ‘What can you teach me? I can say what I like, it won’t damage me. We spend a lot of time explaining to them it’s good for them to take the pressure off themselves, to understand how the media works, how you can offend people.”
What Balotelli really meant:
“You know something, I suddenly realized that stereotypes, racial or not, are funny only until they’re not. Now the joke’s on Finally Mario.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“I’m going to grow a moustache, play basketball instead and take a pay cut.”