The Hairdryer

New face of football sexism provided by crass, patronising Manchester City

The Hairdryer

Manchester City's new 'City Woman' website

Doing an internet search for the words 'Andy', 'Gray', 'Richard' and 'Keys' will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the amount of sexism that's been rife in football over the years.

The former Sky Sports duo lost their jobs and for a while became the whipping boys of the nation after their 1970s-style attitudes to women were laid bare by a string of toe-curling comments about, amongst other things, a female assistant referee entrusted to run the line in a Premier League match.

Gray and Keys have claimed that someone out there has a vendetta against them; as Keys once said, "there are dark forces at work". And while it was easy enough to write him off as a lunatic conspiracy theorist, the suspiciously-timed emergence of a new sexism video just as BT Sport gave Gray as a slot as a stand-in pundit does indeed make it seem that there might have been something in it.

They were far from the only example of grown men working in football who have showed all the respect and sensibility of a 14-year-old boy scanning the top shelf at the local newsagent. The Crystal Palace Crystals cheerleading squad, for example, has been described as the nearest thing to sending pole dancers out onto the pitch to entertain fans.

The reaction to the treatment of Keys and Gray from most (though not all) fans showed in itself that attitudes have changed in the game - as you might expect, given that almost a quarter of fans at Premier League matches these days are women. That figure has risen from well below one in 10 during the 1980s, incidentally.

But now, it seems, Carry On-style objectification has been replaced by a different but almost equally toe-curling response to the Fairer Sex from inside the Beautiful Game.

And it comes courtesy of Manchester City, who have launched a new section of their website called 'City Woman'.

As you might have guessed as you gasp in horror, it takes a rather different view of football and City: instead of focusing on injury reports, manager quotes and profiles of the latest stars coming up through the youth system at Eastlands, it is running competitions to win tickets to see One Direction, glowing reports about a recent and successful "ladies shopping event", and tips on health and fitness, no doubt to help the ladies stay in shape for the football-mad men in their lives.

There are even - and this is not even a joke - a recipe section, which tells you all about James Milner's Thai fishcakes and how Vincent Kompany loves rack of lamb with new potatoes.

As far as we can see the message is clear: women are so incapable of enjoying football for its own sake that they will only visit the club's website if they're tempted in by the same sort of content that they would usually enjoy from Good Housekeeping magazine.

In other words, they've replaced sneering and leering with patronising crassnes. Sexism in football might no longer involve shouts for women to get their t**s out for the lads, but for all that it's as live and kicking as it ever was.

Our resident graphic artist, @BeardedGenius, looked on with his usual blend of dismay and caustic wit to come up with a brilliant spoof on the page.

Just don't forward it to anyone who works at City: no doubt they'd end up plundering most of the imaginary feature ideas and turning them into reality:

View photo


View comments (30)