Jill Scott is a footballer, and she's thin. Ok, she's not *that* thin, but in the world of women's football, because her height of 5'10'' makes her tall as well, I'm tempted to use the word 'lanky.'
April 2015 saw her being sent off while playing for Manchester City, after a head butt, so I'm wondering if she represents the thin end of the wedge for the women's game...
Scott's sending off came only 3 weeks after City's goalkeeper Karen Bardsley was sent off for fisticuffs, and I don't like to see it. Let's be fair, it's not nice to see in the men's game obviously, but unfortunately it's not out of the ordinary when the men do it.
I'm concerned if starts to be a normal occurrence with the women too, as to whether this is 'progress' when it comes to the women's game being the same as the men's version.
My view is that it isn't, it isn't progress at all, but I fear it's being driven by the same thing that drives it with the men, and that's the same thing that drives most things at top level sport - money.
Jill Scott now plays for Manchester City, because they are the biggest club. It's where the best money is, and the best facilities. Whereas the England team used to be made up of predominantly Arsenal players, it's now City players, Scott and Bardsley being two of them.
Scott's played 75 times for England, with 12 goals, so when she butted Arsenal's Jade Bailey, she should have known better. The thing is, she *does* know better, with the phrase being trotted out that it was 'totally out of character.'
Of course we had the immediate apology, she tweeted 'Gr8 effort from all the girls. I want to apologise for the incident which led to me being sent off, gutted to let every1 @MCWFC down today.'
This kind of mea culpa is common in the men's game, in fact if you type 'mea culpa' into a search engine I'm sure there'll be at least one footballer on the first page of results!
It doesn't make it right though, does it? Of course an apology is miles better than no apology, and I'm sure she means it, but does it make everything ok?
I'm not sure it does...
Scott has picked up a 3 match ban, and with be dealt with internally at the club. The manager Nick Cushing has said that they want people to come and watch and then come back, which is not helped by incidents like this, so I imagine Scott may be dealt with quite harshly, especially with it being so soon after Bardsley's incident.
I like women's football. I first came across it watching the odd Women's FA Cup Final, but it was when the European Championships came to England back in 2005 that I really got to see the England team on TV.
Part of the appeal to me is that it's been friendlier than the men's game. Yes, the tackling can be just as fierce, yes there can be the odd bit of argy bargy, but the women's game has never really been characterised by violence on the pitch as can be seen so readily in the men's game.
As the money creeps further into the game, albeit slowly, is that increasing the pressure, which increases the intensity, which increases the likelihood of players losing their heads in the heat of the moment?
Evidence like Jill Scott's head butt would suggest that it is, but I for one hope not.
I hope that the upcoming World Cup in Canada can be played without the overt violence, without the endless attempts to con the ref. I hope that the women's game can retain that respect for an opponent on the pitch, and I hope that Jill Scott doesn't represent the thin end of the wedge.
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