Richard Scudamore is many things. He is chief executive of the Premier League. He is a family man. He is, to all appearances, a mature adult. And he is also, apparently, fond of a spot of email-based misogyny:
I had a girlfriend once called double decker... happy for you to play upstairs, but her Dad got angry if you went below
You will learn over time that female irrationality increases exponentially depending on how many members join your family. That should keep you within the Chinese government's one child per family enforcement rules. Very clever those Chinese.
Once upon a time a Prince asked a beautiful Princess, "Will you marry me?" The Princess said, "No!" And the Prince lived happily ever after and rode motorcycles and banged skinny big t****d broads...
Must keep her [an unidentified female colleague, nicknamed 'Edna'] off your shaft... graphite, sausage meat or flimsy sponge.
Thoroughly edifying stuff. The above all come from emails sent by Scudamore to a friend, a lawyer who works on behalf of the Premier League (and who, for his part, advised Scudamore to "save the cash in case you find some gash"). According to the Sunday Mirror, the emails were automatically copied to his PA at the time so that she could arrange his diary; she in turn passed them to the Sunday Mirror, who splashed them all over the front page: SEX SLURS SHAME OF ENGLAND'S FOOTBALL SUPREMO.
It's okay, though. It was just banter. That, at least, was the line taken by the Mirror's Premier League source, who explained that while "Richard realises his comments were inappropriate," they were "meant in a Frankie Howerd style way." Scudamore himself steered clear of any comic comparisons, instead issuing a statement:
These were private emails exchanged between colleagues and friends of many years. They were received from and sent to my private and confidential email address, which a temporary employee who was with the organisation for only a matter of weeks should not have accessed and was under no instruction to do so. Nonetheless I accept the contents are inappropriate and apologise for any offence caused, particularly to the former employee. It was an error of judgement that I will not make again.
Got that? Nobody should have seen them, and it's a shame that everybody did but somebody was doing things she wasn't meant to be doing, and he's sorry for any offence caused, which is some distance from being just, you know, sorry, since it places considerable responsibility with the offended rather than the offender. If you weren't offended, however, then he's not sorry; his contrition is conditional on your response, which doesn't suggest that he's really twigged that calling women "big t****d broads" isn't a great look even when there aren't any cc'd in. As for it being an error of judgement that he will not make again, it's not entirely clear whether that refers to the emails or the emails getting out. Maybe he'll be changing his password.
English Premier League
English Premier League
This all sits rather uncomfortably alongside Scudamore's professed support for women in football. He has recently claimed the Premier League sought to be at "the leading edge" of the "whole equality agenda," and championed an investment by the league into the new FA Women and Girls programme, amounting to £2.4 million over two years. Though even that grand gesture looks a little underpowered; as was pointed out in the Guardian, this is roughly the same amount that Scudamore will take home in wages plus bonuses this year.
Condemnation has been swift. Labour shadow minister Gloria de Piero said: "No one should use deeply offensive language like this," while Helen Grant, the government's sports and equalities minister, described the remarks as "completely unacceptable and very disappointing." Lord Herman Ouseley, the chairman of anti-racism organisation Kick It Out, drew a comparison with the case of former Aston Villa defender and Kick It Out trustee Paul Elliott, who resigned after using a racial slur in a private argument.
However, from the two bodies that matter the most, the FA and the Premier League, nothing. When Elliott resigned from Kick It Out, then-chairman of the FA David Bernstein said that his position had become "untenable," stating that "the use of discriminatory language is unacceptable" even when the conversation was intended to be private. The FA's current chairman, Greg Dyke, is significantly more relaxed about Scudamore's indiscretions, and has made it clear that the FA wants nothing to do with anything. Not even a ticking off.
As for the Premier League itself, well, according to David Conn in the Guardian, it is content that Scudamore "followed board procedure by reporting the matter to the acting non-executive chair of the board, the chair of the audit and remuneration committee," as well as to the clubs. Conn points out that the board currently consists of precisely two people: Scudamore himself — who presumably already knew — and the solicitor Peter McCormick, acting on behalf of the currently unwell chairman of the Premier League, Anthony Fry. McCormick did not respond to Conn's request for information, so the extent to which he and Scudamore debated Scudamore's behaviour remains, for the moment, a mystery.
Mysterious, too, remains the Premier League's response to a letter from Edward Lord, a member of the FA's Inclusion Advisory Board. He wrote to both the FA and the Premier League pointing out that Scudamore appeared to be in breach of several FA rules and also the Premier League's own Anti-Discrimination Policy. Of particular note:
The League will not tolerate sexual or racially-based harassment or other discriminatory behaviour, whether physical or verbal, and the Board will ensure that such behaviour is met with appropriate disciplinary action whenever it occurs
It is important to recall the context into which these carefully crafted witticisms have been disclosed. A recent study by Women in Football surveyed over 600 women working in the game at all levels and in all roles, both within clubs and with other organisations. Two-thirds of those spoken to reported having experienced sexism in the workplace, more than half felt that there was too much emphasis on their appearance in the workplace, and a third had witnessed women being told that they were unable to do their jobs thanks to their gender.
2014 World Cup
So here we are. The chief executive of the Premier League is a misogynist pillock. The chairman of the FA is a supine embarrassment. A large number of current and former female employees at the Premier League are wondering if they ever appeared in any of these emails, if their boss thinks their chromosomes make them irrational, if they might once have been nicknamed Edna. At least one lawyer is hurriedly deleting his emails. And English football rolls on, institutionally oblivious, having managed to become a slightly less welcoming place for women than it already was.
Well done, everybody.