Fresh calls have been made to give sexist chants the boot today as the partner of a former Championship caretaker manager speaks out about the abuse she experienced during a football match.
Nicola Spencer, partner of former Sheffield Wednesday interim boss Lee Bullen, said she heard “disgusting” chants aimed at women during the Steel City derby match on Friday, when Wednesday played away against rivals Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Bullen, inset, took charge of the Owls for a brief period as caretaker after Carlos Carvalhal left the club on Christmas Eve, and returned to the coaching staff following the appointment of new manager Jos Luhukay on January 5.
Miss Spencer, a lifelong Wednesday fan, says she heard vulgar and obscene chants about women during the derby game on Friday, before being targeted on social media after the match over her partner’s performance as manager. Watching from the away end at Bramall Lane, she confronted the men sitting behind her over the chanting.
“I asked them to stop,” she told The Yorkshire Post.
“One of them said, ‘Have you forgotten where you are? You are at a football match’. Another guy knew me and sort of said to him ‘wind it in’. I have watched football since I was in a buggy. I have grown up watching professional football, I have been to thousands of matches.
“Then someone says to me, ‘You should not be at a football match because you can’t handle sexist chants’.
“There is always going to be banter but there’s a line when it gets personal.”
After the game, she said she was named on social media and called a “tramp” by one fan.
Her call to end sexist chants during matches comes as the Women and Equalities Committee today launched a new inquiry into sexual harassment of women and girls in public places, in light of widespread and high-profile allegations made in the UK and US.
MP Maria Miller, committee chairwoman, said: “Women and girls are harassed on buses, trains, in the street and in bars and clubs.
“We are putting a spotlight on a problem that seems to be so routine in women’s lives, and yet has received very little attention in public policy.” Miss Spencer, 41, called for sexist chants to be stamped out of the game. High-profile women to suffer taunts from supporters during matches in recent years include Victoria Beckham, wife of former England star David Beckham, and Rebekah Vardy, who is married to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy.
Miss Spencer, who runs Spencers Estate Agents in Sheffield, added: “I’m a strong woman and have plenty going on in my life. I get that people want to go somewhere and shout, and let out some steam – I love doing that too.
“But it crosses the line from being an intelligent human being and letting off steam to those kind of chants.”
The Football Association in 2015 called on fans to flag up sexist abuse in matches, in the fallout of disturbing footage showing female officials subjected to obscene chants.