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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 12:26 GMT
Is sexism rife in sport?
Iranian women are forbidden from attending football matches, to protect them from bad language.
Female Irish fans were allowed to attend Thursday's World Cup play-off in Iran, while local woman are banned to protect them from lewd language.

Women may be free to attend matches throughout Europe - but does sexism still exist in sport?


Thursday marked the first occasion since 1979 that women were allowed to attend a football match in Iran.

Only the Republic of Ireland female fans were admitted, and they had to adhere to a strict dress code and be segregated from male fans.

In contrast, the British game has never enjoyed such widespread appeal, with the last decade seeing the traditionally male terraces replaced, and the introduction of family-friendly policies by clubs.

But sports such as tennis and golf have come under fire for giving the male champions higher prize-winnings.

Is sexism rife in the world of sport?


Its not just Iran, it was also the case with the MCC in Australia until the early 80's.
Vinny, Ireland

A common misconception in discussions like this is that women are less physically strong than men. This is garbage. In western society men tend have the edge in physical strength because of a long tradition of men doing physical work. However, there are many societies where the reverse applies, and women are physically stronger. There is no physiological reason why women should not compete directly with men in any sport. Of course they would be slaughtered at first but eventually they would start to win. Presumably this is why men don't want the competition to start. I must confess that I can't imagine why women should want to become sports morons. Having half the population incapable of entertaining conversation is bad enough!
Tom, UK

In the U.S., coverage of women's sports is alive and well
Ann, USA

If sexism in sport refers to women not being able to compete against men because thay are not as strong physically, then that is understandable. Personally, I find most women's sport generally dull due to the slower tempo. However, I've always wondered why, when physical build is not an issue, are women not allowed to compete with men. Snooker, darts and bowling, for instance, are precision "sports" that should allow men and women to compete on equal terms. So why not?
Wayne, trinidad

Here is my take on the issue of prize money, when women's football becomes as exciting and draws as many viewers as men's football does then they should be paid the same salary, and this applies to all sports.
Ademola Ogunade, USA

Maybe if England had a few more world-class female athletes, they'd get a bit more coverage. In the U.S., coverage of women's sports is alive and well, but that's probably because the standard here is so high.
Ann, USA

What a bizarre question. You begin by saying that women are usually barred from football matches in Iran, and then ask wether "sexism is rife in sport". Surely the natural question, since women are NOT barred from football matches in most places, is whether sexism is rife in Iran?
Ben Broadbent, England

One can only admire the defiant Iranian women who demand equal rights against all odds
Fariba Taghavi, USA

I have close contact with my family members in Iran. Contrary to the claim of the Turkish visitor to Iran, young Iranian women love sports and are soccer fans. Despite beatings by the revolutionary guards, there has been instances of girls breaking down the stadium gates to enter. Sport is part of Iranian women's ongoing struggle for equality. One can only admire the defiant Iranian women who demand equal rights against all odds.
Fariba Taghavi, USA

I don't think there's any sexism in sports. And I don't have a problem with the dominance of male sports shown on television either. I'm an avid fan because there's nothing like kicking back and watching a good game of footie. Oh, don't get me wrong, I couldn't tell you about the number of goals scored or how many penalties so and so had. Oh no. My girlfriends and I just love to watch all those sexy muscles work hard on the field. We especially like to compare calf muscles and hairdos.
Natasha, UK

The founder of the modern Olympic movement, Pierre de Coubertain, stated "The Olympics should be dedicated to solemn and periodic exultation of male athleticism with female applause as reward." If one views today's media coverage (including the BBC) of male sport in comparison to women's sport it would appear that Coubertain's ideas still prevail. I have four children aged 16 to 24. The three boys are ignored by the media because they're not good enough. My daughter is largely ignored by the media because she is a female taking part in a sport (athletics) which has low media coverage.
David Patterson, UK

I would have to agree sexism is rife in sport, the other day while engaged in a spot of onion tennis with a friend, namely throwing an onion up and down a supermarket aisle, an oldish lady instructed us to "stop f***ing messing" before finishing with the coup de grace "and anyway what would you know about onions anyway". The implication being, that as men we would have little or no understanding of this common garden vegetable. Well if that's not sexism, I don't know what is.
Portillo, Dublin

Leave sport to men as they are real athletes
Ima Newman, Scotland

I'd like to see a lot more of women's sport on television including mudwrestling, topless darts and nude trampolining. Come on BBC get into the 21st century and televise these sports now.
Matthew Howell, UK

Men are always going to be stronger than women, thats a fact, so of course they are going to be physically better than women but would it hurt for more female sports coverage? Netball is one of the top female sports in Britain but their is never any coverage!
Jazmin, UK

A woman's place is in the kitchen, it is time that they accepted that. Leave sport to men as they are real athletes. Has anybody actually watched a woman's football game and actually kept a straight face for the whole 90 minutes, I think not.
Ima Newman, Scotland

I love watching girl's tennis particularly when talents like Anna Kournikova bring extra sparkle to the game. Girls like her deserve all the diamonds they can win - on or off the court.
Ta Mock, Liberia

I can only assume that Edward Harris is joking. With the state of my wife's cooking, the kitchen is less of a stadium and more of a bearpit.
J. Daniels, Scotland

Professional sportswomen are just, if not more, entertaining to watch as men. In tennis, longer rallies make the game far more interesting to watch.
Danny Peters, UK

Women play women in sports and when they're the best in the world it's great to watch. In Australia we love our netball, basketball, hockey, softball and waterpolo teams. They are among the best in the world. It's not about women playing men it's about everyone enjoying the benefits that sport can bring.
Amelia Barro, Australia

I'm a bit of a feminist and sometimes get the mickey taken out of me. However, I think professional sportswomen (not just "girls" as in Mr Parry's comment) are just, if not more, entertaining to watch as men. Tennis is the obvious example where longer rallies make the game far more interesting to watch.
Danny Peters, UK

I enjoy both men's and women's tennis. Both have different skills which dominate. Women concentrate more on certain abilities as they do not have the physical ability to hit the ball as hard/fast as a man can. Both are fun to watch. However, in terms of prize money, why should women get the same in tennis as the men? After all, they play a maximum of three sets, and men five. If men cut the numbers of sets to 3, or women raised theirs to 5, then equal it out. Until then, you will find sheer maths shows your money goes further when watching the mens game.
Paul Woodcock, England

We all know that a woman's stadium is the kitchen and not a football pitch.
Edward Harris, UK

Having lived in Iran for three years I can safely say that even if women were allowed to the game they would not go. Football generates about as much interest for Iranian woman as clothes shopping does for their husbands. Watching sport may only be restricted to men, but other events, such as the Spring cooking festival, is restricted to women.
A. B. Eegot, Turkey

Just face it women are the weaker sex and are not fit enough or strong enough to participate in sport
James Faulkner, UK

Where tennis is concerned, the men's game is longer, therefore they deserve more money. What annoys me is the lack of coverage of womens football, rugby and cricket, considering we are more successful than the men!
Caroline, UK

This is total rubbish. Where have I heard this nonsense about sexism in sports? This is anyone's game and one has a right to attend any game. It's crude to discriminate women attending sports (like Iran is doing). Europeans, bravo for your non-discrimination.
Joel Maina, Kenya

Just face it women are the weaker sex and are not fit enough or strong enough to participate in sport. They should leave that to the men. You'll never see my wife playing sport.
James Faulkner, UK

I don't think many people can argue with the fact that men, due to their natural weight and strength advantages will always make better athletes than girls. It is therefore only right that prize money should be weighted accordingly. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a sexist, but if you pay to see women playing sport, then you are paying to see a lesser standard of entertainment.
Ben Parry, UK

Don't confuse sexism in sport with sexism in society - as is the case with Iranian women not being allowed into the stadium today, they do have ladies' football teams in Iran so football isn't sexist! The only thing that keeps men and women's sport apart is generally physical strength in competive sport, but look at Ellen MacArthur - she often beats her male counterparts.
Andy, UK

See also:

14 Nov 01 |  World Cup 2002
A man's game in Iran
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