Government urged to address football gender inequality during pandemic

by Campbell Finlayson

A letter has been submitted to the Scottish Government asking for them to address the gender discrimination in Scottish football.

While numerous levels of the men’s game across the country have been granted exemption to travel and play, only the top two levels of women’s football, comprising of just 18 teams, have been allowed to start their season.

Stirling University PhD student and Falkirk Women player Chelsea Raymond, wrote the letter and has since launched this new appeal, hoping to make a change. She says: “The main reason for starting this new appeal was really, I had enough of the deliberating, wondering and waiting for updates or for things to change. It felt like it was time to speak up and to try to make a difference.”

One of the major frustrations for Chelsea and others affected by the decision, is that most of the male players who have been granted exemption to play are part time, but they have been allowed to continue while the female players in the same situation, have not. Of the senior teams in Scottish football who have been allowed to keep playing, less than 6% of them are women’s teams, showing there is still work to be done in bridging the gap in equality, as she states:

“Obviously it is quite frustrating and it’s nothing new, especially in sport. It’s disappointing, especially during a pandemic, where everyone has faced a massively challenging year. It just proves how far society and the sector has to go. It means we need to start advocating for ourselves, seeking change and not taking no for an answer.”

Chelsea’s Falkirk side play in the Scottish Women’s Championship South, with both the North and South leagues at that third tier of women’s football, not given the permission to play. Non-contact training has only just begun within the last week, with no reasoning given as to why they are not able to play, while their male counterparts continue as normal.

Falkirk are of course one of the clubs to have signed off on the letter, but there are currently over 30 who have done the same, with clubs from all levels including the top tier, the Scottish Women’s Premier League, adding their representation.

Of course, the main aim of the letter and petition is to allow all female players to get back to playing the sport they love, but she does worry that if this doesn’t happen soon, it could be the beginning of the end, saying: “Obviously that’s the hope and I remain cautiously optimistic that we will be successful. Time will tell, but I fear what will happen to the game, the communities, the clubs and individuals if this isn’t overturned in the new year. Scottish women’s football will crumble. This will have a huge effect on the national team in the future and the longevity of clubs and teams.”

A link to the petition is available here for anyone who wishes to continue the fight to allow the rest of the women’s teams to return to action.

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