What’s wrong with a man offering applause to a woman who performed her job better than he performed his?
Nothing really. Below the line on certain newspapers will certainly be fomenting with versions of that question and additional queries. “You can’t win with these women, can you?” New York, New York from Coventry may write, a sneer barging fully formed through the remark. We live in a world with dark corners where Patrice Evra will be held up as a brutalised victim of feminist culture, by people who’ve conveniently forgetting his recent sacking from Marseille for fighting with fans.
Perhaps they’re right. Maybe the backlash is excessive. This is a point of transition in the Western world; #MeToo, the gender pay gap and the President of the United States’ stance on pussy grabbing serving to raise the search for some form of equality and we’re only human. It can be hard to adjust to ideas you’ve never come across before, like a woman being in a man’s space on merit.
It’s more than Evra failing to do his research about the game he was scheduled to summarise live though. More troubling is the lack of interest in anything outside his sphere of influence, which seems to have resulted in his having no idea who Eni Aluko actually is. That she might know a bit about football and talking because she’s got 102 England caps and a first class honours degree in law.
He can’t even claim she’s not been getting the coverage lately.
There’s nothing wrong with that in itself. Patrice Evra an extremely successful athlete and far be it from me to tell him what to prioritise so he doesn’t look like a fool on the telly. He’s not obliged to stay abreast of global events forever because he played left back for Manchester United. But should the BBC and ITV be employing people to talk about football matches on the understanding that they have something to offer vs. them turning up in a an open necked shirt and having a bit of a natter while the match is on? Evra is far from the only person Twitter has fallen upon and torn apart over their punditry style. Mark Lawrenson’s hatred of football (implied by his opaque references to the bleedin’ obvious and clear lack of interest in events on the pitch) has become a point of debate, at least in the parts of Twitter that don’t require permission to show offensive content.
What’s the deal? Have we, the viewing public, inadvertently supplied information to the terrestrial channels confirming that we don’t want any disturbingly interesting commentary spoiling our enjoyment of the game? There are so many exceptional people out there who speak eloquently and insightfully about football (many of which work for the outlets anyway) and yet I tune into BBC 5 Live at 8:30am in the morning to find Robbie Savage honking his way through a ‘hilarious’ World Cup round-up and getting predictions off his Mum.
For reference, media organisations who spent vast amounts of money on fonts and salaries and Patrice Evra for World Cup coverage, we the football public can cope with informative analysis and observations, both in the studio and while the game is on. We don’t need gimmicks or enforced merriment and we’re not just relieved to see a face we know during a game between Costa Rica and Serbia.
Remember, we’ve been watching the matches you’ve shown on TV in years gone by. The things we’ve seen would make your hair curl.