HerGameToo respond after alleged sexist abuse hurled at female official

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The non-league match was delayed for over half an hour as alleged sexist abuse was suffered by the female assistant referee.  (Image: Scarborough Athletic FC Twitter)
The non-league match was delayed for over half an hour as alleged sexist abuse was suffered by the female assistant referee.  (Image: Scarborough Athletic FC Twitter)

Two football clubs have been praised by a campaign group after fans were ejected from a match when sexist abuse was allegedly hurled at a female official during a match at the weekend.

Scarborough Athletic have confirmed that a “number of individuals” were ejected from Monday afternoon's National League North match against Darlington Athletic amid alleged misogynist abuse hurled at the female assistant referee during the second-half, which resulted in an almost 40-minute match delay.

Darlington FC have also released a statement imploring any spectators who witnessed Darlington fans involved in alleged “misogynistic remarks” during the first-half to come forward.

The allegations of touchline sexism arrive just weeks after female referees made history at this year’s World Cup in Qatar and amid a rising epidemic of abuse against referees and linesmen in England.

Monday’s non-league clash between promotion-hopefuls Darlington and fifth-placed Scarborough, which the Quakers won 5-2 to return to the top of the table, was briefly postponed in the first half following an announcement over the public address system warning spectators about abusive language after referee Dean Watson held a conversation with assistant Emily Carney.

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However, shortly after Jacob Hazel had put Darlington 3-0 ahead with his second goal nine minutes into the second half, the game was subject to another stoppage amid further issues allegedly emanating from the home end.

Scarborough confirmed in an online statement that Monday’s match “was suspended during the second half for approximately 35 minutes at the direction of the match officials” following the abuse. They added: “Scarborough Athletic continue to work with the relevant authorities and condemn discriminatory behaviour of any kind.”

HerGameToo, a campaign group tackling sexism in football, has praised the actions taken by both football clubs. A spokeswoman said: "As a campaign fighting for a positive change against sexist discrimination in football, we were delighted to see the clubs making such a powerful stance in support of the female official.

"Working with clubs to stamp out this behaviour remains a top priority and it's important that other clubs follow this example if we are to see any form of progression. We would like to thank both Darlington FC and Scarborough Athletic for their quick action following this incident."

Female referees Stephanie Frappart, Yamashita Yoshimi and Salima Mukasanga made history at this year’s World Cup, with Frappart leading out an all-female official team during Costa Rica’s group stage match with Germany. Frappart also made history when she began the first female to take charge of a men’s World Cup match, overseeing the goalless draw between Mexico and Poland at Stadium 974 .

However, in football's lower leagues, abuse towards female officials remains rife. In August, League One club Lincoln City launched an investigation into alleged abuse aimed at official Rebecca Welch during a 4-0 loss to Peterborough United. In April, a young female referee was chased off the pitch, spat at and verbally abused, much of which was of a sexist nature, whilst officiating an under-12s match in the Bolton and Bury District league.

Kick It Out said: "We know that misogynistic behaviour based on tired and harmful stereotypes is not only offensive but serves to undermine the incredible women involved in all aspects of the game. It can also deter women from attending matches and getting involved in the game they love.

“Misogyny cannot be allowed to run unchecked through football. If you have experienced or witnessed sexist abuse, or discrimination of any kind, we could encourage you to report it directly to Kick It Out. By reporting it to us, we can get the right people involved and support those affected.”

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Megan Feringa

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