Scottish football writers’ body sorry as ‘next-level’ sexist jokes prompt walk-out

A body representing football writers in Scotland has apologised after a speaker’s sexist and misogynistic jokes prompted attendees to walk out of its annual awards dinner.

The backlash to remarks at Sunday’s Scottish Football Writers’ Association event, which also saw Sir Alex Ferguson receive a lifetime achievement award, has seen the body pledge to review its format.

Gabriella Bennett, the co-chair of Women In Journalism Scotland, told BBC Radio Scotland: “I really enjoy it as an event, but there are always off-colour jokes made by the speakers … sexist or misogynistic. But last night’s speech was really next-level. I walked out after about five minutes of maybe a 20-minute speech.

“My table stood up to leave, and I saw Eilidh Barbour and people on her table start to leave. But there were loads of people laughing at these jokes. We were two tables in an enormous room and lots of people found it really funny, so there’s lots of work that we still need to do in really changing people’s minds about what’s acceptable.

“I’m no longer shocked or surprised by these kind of offensive remarks masquerading as banter … but I am sickened – by normalising this kind of thing, by minimising these kind of remarks … it’s incredibly insidious. It’s really damaging for women trying to be respected. It allows men to speak to women in a certain way in a professional situation.”

Broadcaster Barbour, who has helmed coverage of various sports for the BBC, Sky Sports and Amazon Prime Video, tweeted: “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.”

In a statement, the Scottish Football Writers’ Association said it “apologises to anyone offended or upset by material from one of our after-dinner speakers”.

The statement added: “We have agreed unanimously that this will act as a catalyst to review and improve the format of our future events to make it an enjoyable and inspirational event for all.”

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