Silence = Violence In Football
Too many of us are silent.
When it comes time to step and defend the players we say we care for, when it’s difficult, or it becomes uncomfortable, too many of us are silent. The NWSL is having a watershed moment. Paul Riley is just one to have been named. Richie Burke may not have engaged in the same harassment but he did indeed harass. Patrice Evra has just courageously revealed that he suffered sexual abuse as a young player. No one would be foolish to suggest that there are no other perpetrators— or so we would hope. Somehow, though, these issues are still a significant part of the sport. Yet, we say we care about the players.
Let’s not make the mistake of thinking that the NWSL is the only league or entity with needs of reform. Professional or amateur, elite or otherwise, the protection provided for players, with a particular lens on female players, is inadequate across the world. Yet, we say we care about the players.
National federations put in place exigent laws to patrol the quality of the football that is put forth. A coach needs a minimum license to train at certain levels. There are issues with that, as well: from the price, to who is exempted, to the duration, to the equivalence and lack thereof between nations. If there is sufficient structure within a club, it can be quickly observed if a coach is out of their depth or not. However, it is rarely easy to identify the threats and predators roaming around the game.
Without looking for it, without making a concerted effort, it’s impossible. The extensive requirements to coach at an elite level far outweigh the minimum demanded of coaches in regards to player safety, health, and security. Yet, we say we care about the players.
There has been a spike in reports of sexual assault by professional players. Yves Bissouma is one of the more recent ones. Riley has been accused of horrendous acts. The Yves Bissouma news has received disturbingly little coverage. A quick look on the Sky Sports (as of this writing) and you find a 59 second video on YouTube and more news about the player returning from injury than any discussion concerning the dangerous and pervasive environment surrounding our sport. Yet, we say we care about the players.
This is just one example amongst many of silence winning over integrity. We often talk about being courageous on the pitch but it seems hypocritical that we can’t do the same off of it. Yet…
A lot of coaches say they care about the players, that the sport is about the players. Now, it’s time to prove it.