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Terry Trial: fighting for equality in football?

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Faye Mooney
WVoN co-editor

This week former England captain John Terry has appeared in court following allegations that he racially abused Anton Ferdinand during a match.

The court proceedings have given an insight into the ‘banter’ about women (wives, girlfriends and mothers) that takes place in the (man’s) world of premier league football.

The Independent reports that Terry admitted that although race is a “no-go” area, “girls are part and parcel” of the abuse exchanged by players on the pitch.

As if to evidence this, the court used the term ‘handbags’ to describe the altercation.

The trial is taking place in the aftermath of the Euro 2012 football tournament, the coverage of which was criticised for being sexist. The relentless focus on women in the audience shamelessly marketed female fans as little more than sexual objects.

The problem appears to lie in the negative role of women in some aspects of football’s ‘lad culture’, where sexist humour can be dismissed as ‘banter’.

It is possibly this very culture which caught out two respected football pundits last year, when Andy Gray and Richard Keys lost their jobs at Sky after being recorded making sexist jokes and suggestive comments about female match officials and colleagues.

This year London hosts the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. With women’s football still the fastest growing sport in the world, and hopes that the presence of female stars in the UK for the Games will provide a boost for the sport, it is essential that we uphold all of the vital principles of equality in sport that the John Terry trial claims to support.

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