Published on 9 August 2013
The dust has settled since Celtic’s two-leg tie against Elfsborg and the club is gearing up for a trip to Kazakhstan, but there are still plenty of comedians around on Twitter with some new-found jokes ready and waiting for anyone who wants to discuss how female officials are treated at Celtic Park. Hilarious fun.
Some Celtic supporters, sadly, seemed to be living their lives in a Carry On film from the 1970s. They certainly seemed to think it part of the match day entertainment to subject two women at their place of work to sexist abuse.
Thankfully, Celtic take the issue a little more seriously. After the incredible number of tweets I received in response to my raising the issue of how two female Elfsborg physios were treated at Celtic Park during the Elfsborg match, I contacted Celtic to find out the club’s stance on the issue.
“We’re absolutely against any form of discrimination,” a club official told me. “Recently at the match against Elfsborg there were examples of sexual discrimination towards the [Elfsborg] club’s physio and doctor and we would ask that supporters become more aware of the fact that it is a form of discrimination.
“The behaviour we saw from a small number of fans – predominantly from the chants and comments that were made – is certainly not welcome and we would ask them to refrain from using that kind of behaviour and those types of comments when they see any female officials at Celtic Park.”
The official I spoke to agreed that the chants and comments were clearly audible within the stadium and stressed it was a matter Celtic take seriously and may need to further address.
In response to those who are worried about their party being spoiled and insist what happened was no more than a few wolf whistles, this Paradise Report recording on Hail Hail Media, at around 18:40 minutes, captured a snapshot of the singing within one section of supporters.
In the coming years football fans can expect to see more female officials in the game. How will they be treated at Celtic Park?
In early 2011, assistant referee Sian Massey found herself the subject of a sexist rant from football pundits Richard Keys and Andy Gray after she correctly flagged a Liverpool goal offside. The pair suggested Massey didn’t understand the offside rule and that the game had “gone mad”. The incident sparked a serious debate about sexism in the game and fans of a club as progressive and opposed to discrimination as Celtic should have a serious think about what side of that debate they want to be on.
Those who fail to see an issue with their own brand of fun at football should consider how they’d feel if their mother, sister, wife or daughter was spoken to like an inanimate object. The idea that anyone would suggest in the course of a normal working day that a woman in the workplace should “get her tits out” is preposterous. Football is no different. Discrimination is just as serious when it concerns gender as when it concerns race or religion.
Celtic Park is a more family friendly place than ever before, and indeed has just opened a dedicated family stand. Supporters should consider that their example teaches young bhoys how to behave and young ghirls how they should expect to be treated.
The club is clear on its position. Treat women with respect at Celtic Park.