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Female umpires across Australia have quit football after being sexually harassed and insulted by their male counterparts, players and fans according to a new report.
Complaints contained in the ‘Girls and women in Australian football umpiring: Understanding registration, participation and retention’ report also include claims of female umpires being sexual assaulted and subject to lewd comments as well as being forced to change with their male colleagues.
Eleni Glouftsis became the first woman to officiate an AFL game in Round 9 last season. Others who wanted to follow in her footsteps have been hit with sexist abuse, a report has found
According to NewsCorp, the AFL did not want the report to be made public.
‘I used to receive messages of nudes that other umpires would send to me,’ one of the umpires told the report.
‘And umpires during games would inappropriately touch me, like when we’re umpiring together and things like that.
‘That’s what made me quit.’
Glouftsis has been a trailblazer but only 2.9 percent of AFL umpires are women
Another female umpire said she ‘openly overheard a group of guys talking about my boobs at training one night’.
In response to NewsCorp’s report, the AFL said in a statement: ‘The report has been a valuable resource for our team in prioritising the key initiatives to accelerate the growth in women and girls taking on umpiring roles’.
However, it did not explain why it allegedly did not want the report to see the light of day.
The AFL identified a lack of umpires as a major issue for footy at grassroots level and last year it funded a research into the shortage of female umpiring, which was conducted by The University of Sydney and published in August.
As of 2019, female umpires accounted for 2.9 percent of AFL umpires and 10.8 percent on a national level.
We are committed to ensuring that women and girls of all ages can take part in our game in a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment, and while we have seen a doubling of the number of girls and women playing football since AFLW was introduced, we have not experienced a similar growth in the umpiring ranks. To better understand this trend, we commissioned a report to look at all the elements that lead to girls and women continuing to be under-represented in umpiring at all levels.
As part of that ‘Girls and Women in Australian Football Umpiring study’, current and former umpires were interviewed and provided valuable feedback on all the physical, cultural and environmental barriers that impacted the pathway for girls and women umpiring at community and the elite level. The important findings and recommendations of the report have formed the basis for a number of initiatives that have been included in the ‘Women and Girls Game Development Action Plan’ which is in its final stages of completion.
The initiatives in the plan are designed to increase representation of women and girls in all parts or our game from players to umpires to coaches and administrators and are aimed at ensuring a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment for women and girls, including to lift the number of women umpires to 40%.
In order to achieve that growth, we will introduce a number of policy directives including developing and publishing the ‘Community football guiding principles for equity’, which will comprise initiatives such as umpiring appointments, access to multi-gender or shared space facilities, establishing female mentoring programs to accelerate the pathway for women and girls and helping to achieve more gender-balanced leadership in all community football leagues and clubs.
The report has been a valuable resource for our team in prioritising the key initiatives to accelerate the growth in women and girls taking on umpiring roles across the country and ensuring we have a safe and welcoming pathway that allows women and girls to progress from community to AFL and AFLW level.