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Alex Scott’s investigation into lack of diversity in women’s football fiercely defended by BBC after complaints: ‘These were legitimate questions’

The BBC has ferociously defended Alex Scott’s report into diversity in women’s football after receiving 222 complaints from viewers.

The presenter’s investigation was aired during half-time of the Euro 2022 Denmark versus Finland game on 12 July, with broadcaster Eilidh Barbour saying that England’s all-white Lionesses highlighted the lack of diversity in the sport.

‘It was a historic eight-goal victory for England last night as the Lionesses secured their place in the quarter-finals,’ Eilidh told viewers as she introduced Alex’s segment.

‘But all starting 11 players and the five substitutes that came on to the pitch were all white. And that does point towards a lack of diversity in the women’s game in England.’

During Alex’s package, she spoke to Debra Nelson, a young Black woman who works at the charity Football Beyond Borders.

Debra told Alex that the women’s England team didn’t speak to her or inspire her, explaining: ‘You need to feel like you can see yourself in someone in order for them to be a role model.

Broadcaster Eilidh Barbour introduced the segment (Picture: BBC)
Alex spoke to Debra Nelson about why she didn’t feel inspired by the Lionesses (Picture: BBC)

‘You need to feel like you can connect with them.’

She continued: ‘I feel like if someone doesn’t have the same lived experiences as you, isn’t of the same background of you, there are so many parts of people’s identity and if you can’t connect with at least one part of someone’s identity, how can they the be your role model?’

During the report, Alex also heard from a range of former players and those involved in the game, including Kelly Simmons, FA director of the women’s professional game, who shared her view that with many academies being run in rural areas, perhaps accessibility is a factor.

Despite the informative segment on the topic, which has been highlighted by the likes of the Football Association and Professional Footballers’ Association, some viewers took issue, including broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer.

She fumed: ‘I’m sorry, what? There’s a problem with the England women’s team in the #WEUROS2022 being too “white”? Which players should be dropped because they have the wrong skin colour?

‘Just extraordinary that a BBC presenter can say this and still be in her job!’

In another post she vented: ‘Why is skin colour relevant? Unless black players are being deliberately left out of the team because they are black, what point is being made?’

The BBC, however, has hit back at complaints, with a spokesperson saying: ‘We feel these were legitimate questions to explore, but we understand some may feel differently.’

Many viewers also rallied around Alex to thank her for raising the matter and ‘p*ssing off the right people’.

‘The number of people criticising Alex Scott without watching her documentary is laughable,’ said one.

‘She asked that if the national team doesn’t reflect the diversity of the country, are there obstacles preventing girls from BME communities accessing the sport. That’s all.’

Last month, Alex noted that while interest in women’s football has grown, its downsides and feels diversity within the teams needs to be addressed.

‘One of the girls I’m mentoring said that when she looks at the England team she doesn’t see herself represented… That needs to be addressed,’ she told Radio Times.

There were only three non-white players on England’s 23-woman squad at the Euros.

England Football has vowed to improve inclusivity for the 2023-24 season and also vowed to look into accessibility, investment and reducing the impact of early selection.

Credit: Source

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