Former Scotland international Leanne Crichton has admitted she left the Scottish Football Writers’ Association awards night feeling “disheartened” after an event speech prompted journalists to walk out.
BBC and Sky Sports TV presenter Eilidh Barbour was among two tables of guests who left Sunday’s gala dinner in Glasgow in protest after offensive jokes were made by Bill Copeland, a lawyer who works on the after-dinner speaking circuit.
Ms Barbour tweeted on social media that she had “never felt so unwelcome in the industry” while others present described the comments as “sexist, racist and homophobic.”
The SFWA issued an apology on Monday to anyone “offended or upset” by the speech and promised to review and improve the format of the annual dinner, during which awards are presented including manager and player of the year.
Kick It Out, who campaign against racism in football, and Women in Football issued a joint statement in response demanding change.
BBC pundit and Motherwell midfielder Crichton, who was also in attendance, said: “I don’t think it was reflective of everyone who was in the room, and there are lots of positive strides.
“There’s still a long way to go and I think last night was a stark reminder of that.”
Gabriella Bennett, a member of the Women in Journalism group, believes the incident is the latest of a wider problem in sports journalism.
She revealed only three out of 95 staff writers in the print side of the industry are women.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Lunchtime Live programme, she said: “What those three women told us - and maybe other women who are working in sports journalism, maybe in broadcasting - would make your hair stand on end.
“Some really, really, shocking testimonials from everything from intimidating atmospheres at football press boxes to sneering attitudes to women in sports.
“I walked out after about five minutes of maybe a 20-minute speech, and within those five minutes it was rammed with sexist jokes.
“My table tood up to leave and I saw Eilidh barbour and people on her table stand up to leave - but it’s also worth pointing out there were lots of people laughing at these jokes.
“We were two tables in an enormous room and lots of people found it really funny.”
Aileen Campbell, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Football described the incident as “disappointing”, but stated the general growth of women’s football has been positive.
She commented: “You think what a shame - we make great strides and then fall back a few paces as well.
“For me, it’s as Leanne said - people are empowered enough now to call it out. We don’t want to tolerate misogyny, nor should we.”
Keynote speaker, Bill Copeland has been approached for comment.