Former Birmingham coach found guilty of homophobic abuse in WSL match

A former Birmingham coach found to have used homophobic language towards Tottenham’s manager, Rehanne Skinner, during a Women’s Super League match in February has been given a seven-match touchline ban. Marcus Bignot, who was the assistant manager of Birmingham at the time of the incident on 13 February, was charged with misconduct by the Football Association in March, which he denied.

The FA confirmed on Thursday that an independent regulatory commission had found the charge to be proven after a two-day hearing in May. Bignot has also been ordered to attend a face-to-face education course.

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Birmingham said on Thursday that they had “now terminated his agreement and will no longer be using his services”. He had been suspended by the club in March.

The commission found it proven that Bignot had said to Skinner, after an incident in the 17th minute of the match: “Maybe if you had a bit of prick in you and in your life, then maybe you’d be better for it and at your job.”

The FA’s position was that this comment was homophobic as he was aware of Skinner’s sexuality. This was denied by Bignot, who said he was oblivious to her sexuality even though Skinner’s partner was a former Birmingham player.

The commission determined that it was “not credible” that Bignot was unaware of Skinner’s sexuality. The commission heard from a number of witnesses to the incident among the Tottenham staff, who it found “credible, compelling and articulate” and dismissed a claim by Bignot’s legal team that they had colluded to incriminate him.

It decided that “on the balance of probabilities” Bignot had made the comment. The commission’s written reasons stated: “The regulatory commission are not concerned with the question whether Mr Bignot is homophobic, nor does it make any finding of such.

“He has been found to have made a comment which was obviously homophobic and wholly unacceptable. It is particularly important that homophobic comment, the kind made by Mr Bignot, is punished severely.”

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The commission was informed that Bignot had lost his job at Birmingham because of the case and been suspended from a role as an England Under-19s coach.

Birmingham said: “Birmingham City Women can confirm that Marcus Bignot has left the football club. This follows the outcome of an investigation carried out by The Football Association in relation to a breach of FA Rule E3 following our Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur Women on Sunday 13 February.”

They said the club “strongly condemn any form of homophobic abuse and reiterate our aim to confront and eliminate any form of discrimination”.