Scottish Football Writers’ Association apologises after Eilidh Barbour takes to Twitter to call out awards dinner speech

The Scottish Football Writers’ Association (SFWA) has released a statement apologising for the language used by one of their after-dinner speakers during their annual awards night.

The organisation said it would work to review and improve the format of the event after sports broadcaster Eilidh Barbour said she felt “unwelcome” at the event over comments believed to have been made during a keynote speech at the SFWA Player of the Year Awards 2022.

The presenter, who hosts Scottish football on Sky Sports as well as numerous sports on the BBC, tweeted: “Never felt so unwelcome in the industry I work in than sitting at the Scottish Football Writers Awards. A huge reminder there is still so much to do in making our game an equal place.”

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Times journalist, Gabriella Bennett – who is also co-chair of Women in Journalism walked out of the event during the speech and said that she was sickened by the remarks ‘masquerading as banter’

She told BBC Lunchtime Live: “It’s worth pointing out that this kind of chat that happened at the Football Writers’ dinner last night does not stop in the dinner hall. It extends out. It flows into newsrooms - it is a cultural thing.

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“Last night was probably the sixth or seventh time I have attended this dinner - but there are always off-colour jokes made by the speakers, and I am using off coloured as a descriptive word, but what I mean is sexist or misogynistic.

“Last night’s speech was really next level. I walked out after about five minutes of maybe a 20 minute speech, and within those five minutes that was rammed with sexist jokes, and I saw Eilidh Barbour and her table stand up to leave.

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Tv presenter Eilidh Barbour took to social media to call out language used in an after-dinner speech at an awards night.

“It is also worth pointing out that there were loads of people laughing at these jokes. We were two tables in an enormous room and lots of people found it really funny. There is lots of work we still need to do in changing people’s minds about what is acceptable.”

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She added: “If this was one off-coloured joke, one offensive remark made in a 20 minute speech it would be a different thing, but it was the five minutes that I sat through jam-packed with sexism and misogyny.

She added that the speech was “unacceptable” and that more had to be done to prevent normalising of such behaviour in the industry and across sports journalism.

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In a statement, the SFWA said: “The Scottish Football Writers’ Association apologises to anyone offended or upset by material from one of our after-dinner speakers at last night’s annual awards dinner.

“We have agreed unanimously that this will act as a catalyst to review and improve the format of our future events to make it an enjoyable and inspirational event for all.”

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Following the reports, many tweeted solidarity with Barbour, with BBC presenter Gabby Logan writing: “I can’t believe I am reading all this in 2022!”

Women in Journalism Scotland also tweeted: “Solidarity with Eilidh and all those working towards long overdue change in our industry”