Challenging the F.A.’s mixed-gender rule: an alternative liberal rights approach
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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During the summer of 2015, The English Football Association (The FA) increased the age limit in which mixed-gender football can be practiced throughout the country. The fifth rule increase in as many seasons now permits males and females to compete with and against each other, in the English football leagues, in Under 18 competitions. The implementation of this policy displays significant progress in terms of The FA’s five year women’s development plan. However, the policy itself remains problematic and ought to be abandoned for these reasons (i) the policy disregards the principle of non-discrimination (ii) enforced segregation is disempowering and suppresses evidence of a sports gender continuum (Kane, 1995) and (iii) preventing women and men from playing with and against each other reinforces gender stereotypes and existing gender hierarchies (Burke, 2010). In this thesis I argue that the best method for the advancement of girls and women demands that the FA ‘allow’ women who are capable of competing with and against men to choose sex integrated competition. Following Burke (2010, p.16) I argue that the FA’s policy on segregation attempts to protect a gender group from competing against a “superior” group. Yet, in the majority of sporting classifications subordinate groups are handed consent to perform against the superordinate group (Burke, 2010). This policy, aimed at protecting women from men, disregards women who do not ask or appear to require protection. Consequently, women’s access to sporting opportunities have become marginalized.
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