From: The Equal Opportunities Commission

25th July, 1990.

Dear Mr Date,

Thank you for your letter of 15 July in which you draw the Commission's attention to the apparent absence of equal opportunities in the Football Association's arrangements for selecting the manager of the England soccer team. The FA, as an employer, is required under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (the SDA) to afford equal treatment to men and women in respect of recruitment, promotion, etc.

Unfortunately, the single-sex nature of competitive soccer, with women being denied the opportunity of playing with or against men, means that women are prevented from gaining experience and qualifications that are prerequisite for advancement to other jobs in soccer, including coaching, administration and, of course, management. In the Commission's view, the sad fact that there are few women, if any, who are in a position to be considered as serious candidates for the managership of England stems from the lack of equal opportunities for them to play competitive mixed soccer at school and elsewhere.

At the present time, single-sex sporting competitions are lawful under section 44 of the SDA, but the Commission has proposed to the Government that this section should be amended to exclude from its scope participation in competitive sport by young people of school age. it remains to be seen whether our proposal will be implemented, but there are a number of hopeful signs which indicate that soccer's policy-makers are becoming increasingly sympathetic to the introduction of mixed soccer in schools, albeit up to the age of eleven. For example, the Welsh FA has changed its rules recently to allow girls to play in mixed games, and a similar proposal currently being studied by the English FA is expected to be approved next year.

The Commission very much welcomes these belated voluntary moves and would like to see more women involved in soccer, at all levels of the sport. Like you, the Commission hopes that the fiction of women succeeding in soccer will become reality in the not too distant future.

Thank you for raising this interesting matter.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Fernie
Education and Training Unit