Rude chants heard during Friday's Steel City derby spark calls to tackle sexism in football

Calls have been made for more to be done to tackle sexism in football after Sheffield Wednesday supporters were heard directing vile chants at the Sheffield United managers female relatives during Fridays derby.
Calls have been made for more to be done to tackle sexism in football after Sheffield Wednesday supporters were heard directing vile chants at the Sheffield United managers female relatives during Fridays derby.

Calls have been made for more to be done to tackle sexism in football after Sheffield Wednesday supporters were heard directing vile chants at the Sheffield United manager’s female relatives during Friday’s derby.

Lifelong fan Nicola Spencer, the partner of former Sheffield Wednesday interim boss Lee Bullen, said she heard ‘disgusting’ chants aimed at women during the Steel City derby on Friday at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield Heeley MP, Louise Haigh, says sexist chants are what gives football a bad name - but adds she is glad to hear fans called out supporters for taking part in such chants

Sheffield Heeley MP, Louise Haigh, says sexist chants are what gives football a bad name - but adds she is glad to hear fans called out supporters for taking part in such chants

Ms Spencer said she heard Owls fans using offensive chants aimed at a female relative of Sheffield United manager, Chris Wilder.

Watching from the away end, Ms Spencer said she turned to the men sitting behind her to ask them to stop.

“One of them said: ‘have you forgotten where you are? You are at a football match’. Another guy knew me and sort of said to him ‘wind it in’.

“I have watched football since I was in a buggy. I have grown up watching professional football, I have been to thousands of matches.

Former Minister of Sport, Richard Caborn, branded the chants 'unacceptable'

Former Minister of Sport, Richard Caborn, branded the chants 'unacceptable'

“Then someone says to me: ‘you should not be at a football match because you can’t handle sexist chants’.

“There is always going to be banter but there’s a line when it gets personal.”

Former minster of sport, Richard Caborn today branded the comments ‘unacceptable’ and urged Ms Spencer, and others who heard the chants, to report them to Sheffield Wednesday.

Mr Caborn, who was MP for Sheffield Central between 1983 and 2010, said: “It’s just completely unacceptable. In 2018 you should be able to go to a match without hearing upsetting things like this.

“They wouldn’t like it if this was being chanted about their girlfriend, their wife, their mother, their sister, their grandmother.”

The Blades fan added: “It is absolutely not just banter.”

Sheffield Heeley MP, Louise Haigh, Shadow Policing minister said: “Chants like this are exactly what gives football fans a bad name, and tars the millions of decent men and women who enjoy football with the same brush as people who can’t behave decently. Abusive and misogynistic language normalises the objectification of women and I’m glad other fans saw fit to call it out.”

In the run-up to Friday’s match Sheffield Wednesday supporters’ club warned fans not to join in chants about Wilder’s female relatives.

Posting on Twitter on January 5, they said : “Serious point: the handful (and yes it was just a handful) of idiots singing about Wilders (sic) daughter today. You’re not Wednesday fans.

You’re shameful, despicable and vile. That’s not banter, and it’s not welcome. Don’t disgrace our club with this on Friday.”

Condemnation of the sexist chants used during Friday’s game come as BBC sport presenter Jacqui Oatley MBE has criticised a Sheffield Star reader who described football as a ‘man’s game’ in a letter to the paper on Saturday.

The journalist and Women in Football ambassador spoke out after Ken Tomlinson bemoaned the number of female presenters and reporters covering football matches.

With a touch of sarcasm, she said: “Dear Ken, terribly sorry to ruin your afternoon but there will be four female reporters out of 20 on Final Score today, including Sue Smith with 93 England caps, but, thankfully for you, none are inthe studio.

“So enjoy Radio Sheffield. Love, Jacqui x P.S. most of your facts are incorrect.”