Toxic masculinity and misogyny saturates football to its very core.
Whether it’s Lord slamming , or sexist tropes on Twitter following England’s own after scoring the team’s winning goal in the Women’s Euro 2022 final, it’s rife.
Now, apparently the game’s top players are getting compulsory lessons on the meaning of consent, for the first time in its history.
Grown men, in 2022, are being taught how not to rape women.
Men who earn millions for playing in the Premier League are set to receive mandatory sexual consent courses, which will also focus on harassment and bullying.
Apparently, the League already offers training for under-14s and under-23s – the job our schools and universities should be doing already, in my opinion – but it wasn’t mandatory for senior professionals. Meaning, the ones on our telly, on razor adverts, drinks cans, and transport posters, making millions.
A number of these players have already been accused of rape and assault against women. The same players who have been worshipped by numerous impressionable young boys – and clearly can’t bring it upon themselves to find the time to educate themselves about consent.
Clubs will reportedly face disciplinary action if they don’t implement the training sharpish.
What’s more, though Football League clubs have been advised to welcome the same mandatory training, apparently nothing has come of it.
What seems to be missing from these new rules, though, is that players who are arrested on suspicion of rape should face an automatic suspension. This goes directly against the views of campaigners, and is such a harmful message.
The Three Hijabis’ Shaista Aziz told Telegraph Sport: ‘It is inconsistent and inconceivable that, in 2022, you can have a high-profile footballer accused of very serious crimes and his employer says: “It’s OK, he can carry on going to work”.’
As a Spurs fan (for my sins), because of this seeming disregard for, and disbelief of, women, it makes me feel unsafe and unwilling to attend matches.
And there’s no denying that football has had its fair share of sexual misconduct allegations.
Clubs need to take a firm stand against players with accusations of misogyny and the mistreatment of women to their name
Last month, an unnamed Premier League player in his 20s accused of raping a woman last year was re-arrested after two further rape claims from a second survivor. He was released on bail and will be tried this month, according to The Sun. It’s not been made clear if the player has continued to appear on the pitch.
An 18-year-old survivor’s personal Instagram account released images and footage in January, allegedly detailing abuse she’d faced at the hands of Manchester United’s forward Mason Greenwood, for an investigation to take place – but he’s not been formally charged.
Pictures showed cuts and bruises on her body, and a . Her father has since claimed that her account was hacked.
The 20-year-old player was released on bail after initially being arrested on suspicion of rape, with further enquiries into allegations of assault, sexual assault and making threats to kill. Greenwood was suspended by the club until further notice, with club officials saying they were ‘concerned’ about his ‘ego’ for some time, but he was never removed from the club’s website after his arrest – just the team’s app.
Currently, Manchester City’s defender Benjamin Mendy, 27, also stands accused of seven counts of rape, one count of sexual assault and one attempted rape dating back to 2018 from six complainants. Mendy has been charged and pleaded not guilty.
These events, though they may appear isolated, are linked by a sheer disrespect for women. Football and its fans have got away with misogyny for years, decades even, and this ‘ego’ – apparently shown by Greenwood – is nothing more than a disgusting, appalling scorn for, and mistreatment of, women and girls.
This desperate clutching at straws from the Premier League by offering mandatory consent lessons – but not agreeing to formally suspend players arrested on suspicion of rape – is too little, too late. It’s not enough.
And why on Earth, in the Premier League’s 30-year history, has the issue of consent and gender-based bullying never been tackled when it comes to its most prized, senior players?
Where is each team’s code of conduct? How many more women have suffered in silence at some of the most worshipped men in the world? All because grown men don’t know how to behave, or how to educate themselves on how to treat women.
To play devil’s advocate, it does make me wonder where else players have the opportunity to learn this, though. They are bred in a laddish, insular culture – often from a young age and away from school – and have a jaded view on the world.
But it’s up to the Premier League to set an example against sexual misconduct, and finally choose to believe women.
I think the idea of teaching consent lessons is brilliant – truly. But we’re not summoning a naughty group of schoolboys to detention to talk about how to behave nicely, we’re talking about teaching grown men to learn about when no means no. Grown men who are role models to the rest of the world.
Clubs need to take a firm stand against players with accusations of misogyny and the mistreatment of women to their name.
Any player accused of sexual assault or misogyny needs to be suspended immediately, pending internal investigations from the club – not just sent to school.
Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
Share your views in the comments below.