Scott Booth: Birmingham City WSL boss says male coaches must keep women safe

12th October, 2021 1:07 pm

Male coaches in women’s sport have a responsibility to create an environment that “is safe” and that athletes deal with “no fear whatsoever”, says Birmingham City manager Scott Booth.

Booth is one of seven male bosses in England’s 12-team Women’s Super League.

In the US, the National Women’s Soccer League was suspended following sexual misconduct allegations.

“You have to constantly bear in mind that you are a man in women’s football,” Booth said.

“There’s certain things which are just unacceptable. It’s crucial that you create an environment, as a male in women’s football, that is safe and feels safe for women to come to work without the worry that anything like that may happen or be imposed upon them.

“For me it’s about making sure it’s an environment the players want to come into and they have no fear whatsoever.”

Englishman Paul Riley was last week sacked by National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) side North Carolina Courage after sexual misconduct allegations were made against him. He has denied the accusations.

Rival NWSL side Portland Thorns, where Riley previously worked, said they regret their role in “a systemic failure across women’s professional soccer”.

Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall said “it’s instrumental that players feel listened to” and that the NWSL allegations should be “an eye-opener”, not only in the US, but globally.

“I would assume that this incident isn’t unique in this structure,” he said.

“Hopefully if there are problems, or there have been, that they get investigated and the players get justice.”

Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor said dealing with player welfare concerns “needs to be the focus point on everyone’s mind”.

“It’s about making sure we get the relevant support to these players and we eradicate it from the game as much as we need to,” Taylor said.

Manchester United manager Marc Skinner, who previously worked in the NWSL as Orlando Pride boss, said “players have every right to stand up and want to be protected”.

“We should not put our players in positions where they feel vulnerable or feel like they’re not supported in any way,” Skinner continued.

“I thank the players for standing up for what they believe is right and for getting the justice they deserve.

“I hope that continues to grow in women’s football and in sport in general.”

Skinner said safeguarding training in the sport remains important and that men “need to delve into what it is to support a woman in women’s sport”.

“We did safeguarding training and you don’t lock yourself in a room on your own, you’re always visible, you don’t inappropriately touch players in terms of any contact that’s not welcome… I’d like to say it’s common sense but I know it’s not,” he added.

Leicester City manager Jonathan Morgan said that while he has a “strong relationship” with his players, the roles of the safeguarding officer and psychologist at the club are important.

“The club are fantastic in supplying the facilities we need to allow the girls to know they are safe and secure in the environment,” he said.

“I’m very open with my players. It’s important for me to make them feel comfortable so they can come and talk to me about anything.

“I’m very fortunate that over the last 18 months and in previous times, I’ve had girls tell me very private and serious issues they have been going through and we’ve been able to direct and support them in the right way as a club.”

Source: Scott Booth: Birmingham City WSL boss says male coaches must keep women safe – BBC Sport October 2021

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