Long stories short
- West African leaders ordered the deployment of a standby Ecowas force to Niger to “restore constitutional order”.
- Five Iranian-Americans held in Iran were moved to house arrest in a first step towards a reported prisoner swap deal.
- Virgin Galactic flew tourists to space for the first time.
Football under a cloud
Last year all 20 clubs in the English Premier League were ordered to give players and staff mandatory sexual consent training following high profile police investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct.
So what? Only half the clubs are prepared to confirm they have done the training.
The world’s biggest club season starts today with great fanfare. Ten matches are scheduled for the next four days. But exclusive Tortoise research shows the clubs’ response to the sexual consent training requirement has fallen woefully short.
Most of the misconduct charges have been dropped, but they have left a dark cloud hanging over some players in a globally supported league which purports to take the protection of women and girls seriously. One campaigner behind the training requirement called the lack of response “staggering”.
The Premier League introduced the requirement for players and staff from the start of last season, in August 2022. Since then:
- Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy stood trial for rape and attempted rape. He was found not guilty last month, and has subsequently moved to French side Lorient.
- Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood was charged in October 2022 for attempted rape, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and controlling and coercive behaviour. All charges were dropped in February 2023. His future at United remains uncertain.
- An unnamed Premier League player, first arrested in July 2022 over a rape allegation made by a woman in her 20s, has had their bail extended to a date this month.
The League announced last summer clubs would have to undertake sessions on healthy, respectful relationships and understanding harassment and consent.
Sexual consent training is supposed to cover sexual relationships, seeking consent and understanding sexual harassment and bullying. The training is provided through third-parties who partner with the League, which clubs can supplement with additional providers.
Until last year, the League ran workshops for academy and first-team players from under-14s to under-23s, but the training was not mandatory for senior professionals.
Route one. Since early July, Tortoise has contacted every Premier League club from the 2022/23 season to establish if they had carried out the mandatory training. We asked four questions:
1. Has the club carried out the mandatory sexual consent training?
2. If so, when did this happen?
3. How many players and staff have received the training in total?
4. What did the training consist of?
Of the 20 Premier League clubs contacted, we received just ten responses confirming the club had carried out the training, most with little or no detail.
Of those ten responses, the most extensive reply totalled 82 words.
One club representative, who wouldn’t comment on whether they had or hadn’t carried out the training, told Tortoise the questions were “club business” and that they “didn’t take part in league-wide canvassing”.
A representative from another club said: “If it is mandatory, I am sure we do”, but failed to clarify whether the club had actually provided the training after further requests.
A third, when confirming they had indeed carried out the training, asked why we needed the data.
The mandatory training policy was brought in following a meeting in June 2022 between the Premier League and the campaign groups End Violence Against Women Coalition, the Three Hijabis and Level Up.
Shaista Aziz, co-director of Three Hijabis, told Tortoise: “I think it is staggering that Premier League clubs are unable or unwilling to provide clarity and full transparency over the very serious issue of gender-based violence, consent and potentially criminal behaviour.”
Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “Football is a powerful cultural institution with huge sway over our collective attitudes and beliefs. That’s why it’s so important that the Premier League and FA lead by example and show they are taking gender-based violence seriously.
“We successfully campaigned for all clubs to have mandatory training on gender-based violence; now clubs must be open about how they are actually delivering on this.”
The Premier League said it didn’t comment on individual clubs, and that its Safeguarding Standards guidance was enforced through an independent audit process to ensure compliance.
And finally… a note to Premier League clubs who haven’t responded – we’d like to hear from you.
Photograph Getty Images
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