Slowly but surely, women are gaining more and more acceptance in the football world. But the path to true gender parity isn’t particularly smooth.
Last weekend, Sparta Prague faced off against Brno in Czech First League action. It was a very, uh, spry confrontation that ultimately ended in a 3-3 draw.
One point of controversy came when a Brno player should’ve been ruled offside but wasn’t. We all know this as something that happens in football— assistant referees have a tough job and sometimes they don’t catch everything. Occasionally this results in goals that should never have counted. It sucks, and it’s unfair, but most people accept it as a quirk of the game, a transgression on par with the official missing something that would typically justify a red card.
Yet there are a number of people for whom the rules change when they learn that the AR in this case was a woman. Because then, this common mistake becomes unforgivable.
So it was that, in post-game comments to the press, Sparta goalkeeper Tomas Koubek told reporters that women have no business officiating men’s football. Indeed, as Koubek noted, “women belong at the stove.”
Soon after, injured teammate Lukas Vacha posted this on Twitter.
The photo shows the AR in question, Lucie Ratajova. It translates roughly as “the stove” or “the cooker.” The implication is pretty clear.
Later, both Koubek and Vacha issued public apologies. Koubek posted his on Facebook, complete with a photo of his wife and young daughter, and said that his comment was aimed specifically at the AR and not women in general. Vacha echoed that sentiment— his problem isn't women, per se, just that particular woman. Yup. Sure thing.
The Czech FA is meeting on Thursday to decide what, if anything, they plan to do about this. Sparta Prague, on the other hand, has already taken action.
Spata’s chief executive Adam Kotalík also called the duo’s comments “unacceptable.”
While the efficacy of this move is somewhat dubious— as an opportunity to see women be as capable as men, it makes some big assumptions on the part of misogynists and their ability to learn from their mistakes, and as a means to humiliate them as punishment, it inadvertently betrays some less-than-progressive sentiment toward women’s football— the motivation seems genuine enough. Plenty of other football clubs would sweep something like this under the rug— you know, like West Ham are trying to do right now. Sparta Prague are at least trying to make it clear that this kind of behavior is not okay. That’s a step in the right direction, at least.
For now though, spare a thought for Sparta Prague’s social media and communications team. They’re about to get flooded with messages from angry men chiding them for caving to Teh SJWs or The Regressive Left, whining about “feminazis” trying to turn football into a “safe space” or whatever internet dunderheads are complaining about these days.