The sound of doors banging behind powerful men in Spain as they leave their positions will soon be framed as the noise of pennies dropping.

Interesting, then, that so many wish to remain deaf.

It is easy to laugh and pour scorn when reading an opinion that seems so ignorant as to have been written with crayons and on the back of a Happy Meal box but there is something insidious - and wearily familiar - when important men are defended and women are dismissed.

When those voices appear in print, it helps foster a culture where women’s concerns, particularly in sport, are not taken seriously.

This week the Slovenian national players have spoken out collectively to reveal an environment of bullying and sexism from coaches and those in leadership positions as they seek systematic reform.

It came against the backdrop where a well-respected columnist in an English broadsheet newspaper this week used his platform to suggest that Jorge Vilda, the manager who led Spain to the Women’s World Cup last month, was sacked for ‘clapping his boss’.

The iceberg underneath that round of applause would sink half a dozen Titanics.

His boss, of course, is the disgraced and now suspended Luis Rubiales. Rubiales has been provisionally suspended by FIFA from all football-related activity and banned from contacting Jenni Hermoso - whom he kissed without consent - or those close to her while an investigation is carried out. It has prompted a widespread scandal that continues to resonate in Spain.

This week Hermoso filed a legal complaint against the Spanish Football Federation president as she claimed the kiss was not consensual. Rubiales, who also celebrated that World Cup win by grabbing his crotch, could now face criminal charges.

But to claim that Vilda, who was protected by Rubiales in a long list of misconduct accusations - and the reason why 12 players who should have been at the World Cup were not - was sacked for applauding Rubiales’ speech where he insisted in the aftermath of the incident that he would not resign, misses the point entirely.

Vilda was sacked simply because Ribiales was no longer there to protect him - and exactly why he was the main cheerleader for the disgraced president to remain in post.

“Dismissal of a World Cup-winning coach shows us that we have moved into a new phase of this insidious era of mob rule and moral cowardice,” thundered the column. “Jorge Vilda’s sacking was a violation of natural justice. Most disturbing is that almost nobody has come to his defence, terrified that they too might catch the eye of the mob.

“This isn’t only the age of woke; it’s an age of moral cowardice.”

Aside from being hyperbolic nonsense, it is grossly inaccurate as the tiniest bit of research would have revealed. The only surprise about the sacking of Vilda is that it took as long as it did; 15 players last year signed their names to a letter complaining about the culture he had created and the issues of control, including bedroom doors being left unlocked before midnight when the team was away to enable Vilda to “check” on them.

Watch the division between players and coaching staff when the whistle sounds at the World Cup final against England in Sydney and pay close attention to how it contrasts with the manner in which Sarina Wiegman’s side reacted. The team united is the team on the losing side.

And then reflect on the fact that after the success of claiming the trophy, 81 Spanish footballers, including ALL 23 members of the World Cup-winning squad,  released a statement saying they would not play for the national team while the “current administrators” are in place. That did not just reference Rubiales.

It was not mob rule which cost a man his job. A man and his actions cost a man his job.


Monday was the 49th anniversary of the SFA’s decision - the last European association to do so - to accept women’s football. In a modern context, it can be so easy to forget that women were banned from playing football for so long. 

Half a century on and Rose Reilly might just have encapsulated just how the sands have shifted, showcasing where we were to where we are.

Reilly’s story has been mixed up in as much fiction as fact but the decision this week from Celtic to announce her as their ambassador was an astute one. Affable, funny, clever and an iconic presence within the Scottish women’s game, Reilly deserves - finally - to claim the Celtic shirt as her own.

“There was a game and a Celtic scout had come to watch,” she recalled of her time as a kid playing in Stewarton with a local boys’ team. “I scored about eight goals and the scout wanted to sign the number seven - ‘the wee boy who got all the goals.’

“My manager told him, ‘you can’t, she’s a wee lassie!’ I was devastated that I couldn’t play for Celtic. I just thought if I’m good enough, then why not?”

This week as Kelly Clark scored Celtic’s first-ever Champions League goal, Reilly had to settle for a question of what might have been.

For a whole generation, however, there is a tantalising question of what can sit in front of them.


If UEFA are serious about ramping up interest - commercial as much as popular - in the Women’s Champions League it would make sense to play qualification games at times that encourage an ability to watch them.

Playing games on midweek working days at 10am and 1pm is a nonsense with the optics suggesting that they have been palmed off as little more than a precursor to the main event.

The scheduling wouldn’t happen in the men’s game and nor should it in the women’s equivalent.