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Ange Postecoglou believes the fallout from the Scottish Football Writers’ Association’s annual awards dinner on Sunday should act as “a teaching moment”.
The SFWA apologised after an after-dinner speaker made offensive jokes that led to guests including sports broadcaster Eilidh Barbour walking out.
Barbour declared she had “never felt so unwelcome” in her industry while another guest revealed she had walked out following “sexist and racist jokes”.
Never felt so unwelcome in the industry I work in than sitting at the Scottish Football Writers Awards. A huge reminder there is still so much to do in making our game an equal place #callitout #equalgame
— Eilidh Barbour 💙🤍 (@EilidhBarbour) May 8, 2022
The SFWA promised a review of the event, which was attended by award winners including Celtic boss Postecoglou – manager of the year – Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon and former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who received a lifetime achievement award.
Postecoglou said: “It is fair to say, I guess, that the content was probably not appropriate. To be honest I don’t even know if it is appropriate at anything, with the way you need to understand about the way people feel about these things.
“The key thing about that is, you can turn it into a controversy but I don’t think people learn from that.
“Make it a teaching moment to be better, for the people who have the responsibility of organising those nights, an opportunity to do things a little bit better, a lot better and understand that the people in that room – you have to take into account their own beliefs and feelings.
— Women in Football (@WomeninFootball) May 9, 2022
“But aside from that, the organisers have approached it the right way. They have apologised for it but it is just an opportunity to be better the next time, rather than make it a controversy. I don’t think you end up learning anything from that, be better and respect people’s views.”
Asked if he felt there was much work to do in the game in Scotland to make everyone, particularly women, more welcome, the former Australia boss said: “There is lessons for everyone.
“If people make mistakes along the way, it is a teaching moment for all of us, whether that is in an industry we are directly involved in, in this situation football, or if you are a football writer, it is an opportunity to be better, but that goes for everyone, even if you aren’t involved in that moment, to understand that it is a really important part of society today.
“I know that we sometimes feel that unless we are personally offended we shouldn’t get involved in the discussion, but my own feelings is that you always have to have empathy, you have to walk in other people’s shoes to understand how it affects them.
I was at these awards tonight and sat through the same sexist and racist jokes made by a keynote speaker. My table walked out at the same time Eilidh’s did https://t.co/aEAV4VqLtn
— Gabriella Bennett (@palebackwriter) May 8, 2022
“Once we are all mindful of that, there will be fewer moments like that when people potentially make a mistake because they have thought about it beforehand, thought about every person in that room.
“I don’t want to sit in judgement and, as I said, if you turn it into a story about that night and the controversy, I think there is a failure to learn from it.
“The people who need to be asked about it are the ones who have already made a statement about it and you take that on board and try to be better.
“We can all try to be better, it doesn’t mean we are perfect, I have made plenty of mistakes, you just try to be better as a person and as a society.”