It had to happen sooner or later. Gordon Brown has become embroiled in the scandal over the exclusion of Sunderland Women’s football club from the proposed Super League of eight teams – despite being current Premier League leaders, FA (Women’s) Cup finalists last season and a team containing nine international players at different levels.
The FA has been maintaining the apparent fiction that no decision has yet been made, even though the club says it has been told – by, presumably, the FA – that Sunderland’s strong case for a place has been brushed aside on commercial and marketing grounds.
Among the many football supporters outraged by this latest piece of discriminatory nonsense from the FA were non-Sunderland fans, including Wull Rowan from our good friends at FootballUnited (futd.com).
Will decided to start a petition with the aim of shaming the FA into making the decision that would surely strike any neutral observer as decent and fair: offer Sunderland WFC a place.
He thought it would also be a good idea to bring the matter to the attention of the leader of a government that claims to support sexual equality (quite apart from its notional commitment to natural justice).
Some bureaucratic jobsworth at Number 10 banned his message from the Downing Street petitions website, evidently because it contained a link to Salut! Sunderland’s article on the subject.
Will duly omitted the link and, for safe measure, any reference to the FA. Back came the custodian of petitions with a chummy “Hi” coupled with regrets that another excuse had now been found: the subject was “outside the remit or powers of the Prime Minister and Government”.
To which my own response is: “Surely if Brown’s citizens ask the Government to do something, or draw its attention to some injustice, it automatically becomes an issue of relevance to number 10! MPs frequently make representations on matters over which they strictly speaking have no jurisdiction. But overcome that hurdle and they’ll just come up with another clause to justify rejecting it.”
The petiton – which can be seen and signed at this link – reads:
“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to urge that the Football Association are equitable in their treatment of men’s and women’s football leagues
Sunderland Womens Football Club have been excluded from next season’s eight team Premier League, by The FA, reportedly on commercial and marketing grounds.
According to a report in The Guardian Chairman of the Sunderland WFC, Maurice Alderson, has been told of the decision, which he describes as a “kick in the teeth”.
The Club is presently leading the Womens Premier League includes 9 internationals amongst its players, and has the support of Sunderland AFC.
It is inconceivable that the FA would contemplate a similar exclusion in the mens Premier League. To treat the women’s game in this way is bad for all football.”
Says Will: “It doesn’t have to end here: I’m astonished that The FA may have behaved in this way… here at FootballUnited we care hugely about all levels of the game: we’ll gladly put together our own petition on this.”
* With thanks to Podknox’s photos at Flickr for the image of Gordon Brown in deep water.