Tackling the problem w/ Josh Denzel
“Football brings everyone together,” Josh Denzel says while sat with a group of players from AFC Walcountians outside Hayes Lane stadium, South East London.
“It’s a uniting force, but it’s also a space where people bring sexist and abusive actions towards women. I think as football fans and as guys especially, it’s our job to make women feel safe in these environments around the football ecosystem.”
Josh and the players are here to talk as part of 'Enough': a campaign set up by the Home Office in March 2022 to shine a light on the issue of Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG), and galvanise men, including football fans, to be part of the solution.
In the UK, 84% of women have experienced at least one form of sexual harassment in their lifetime, a genuinely terrifying statistic. But it’s a statistic that you might be able to do something about, even in the smallest ways.
This isn’t to point the finger or blame football, it’s to empower everyone who might recognise these behaviours, to understand that we can all do something to help.
When discussing how women and girls watching football can be made to feel intimidated by the actions of other fans, Albert, one of the AFC Walcountians players in the films, raises a powerful point.
“A lot of responsibility will fall on our shoulders to make it a better environment for them,” Albert says. “Calling out people when we see it, making sure that they feel comfortable, being an ally, basically.”
Saying little things can go a long way to changing how a person acts. And the next time they see something, they might call it out too.
Throughout the two episodes, Josh, Albert and his Walcountians teammates Chike, Ryan, and Luke discuss a range of examples of sexism or abuse. Such as passing sexist comments in WhatsApp groups, making women feel uncomfortable watching football in pubs, making untoward advances on public transport, and men returning from football matches taking out aggressive moods on their partners after their side has lost.
These are actions that you may recognise seeing or experiencing yourself, and Chike brings up how impactful it can be having a friend tell you you’re doing something wrong.
“When it comes from a mate it does make an impact,” Chike says in the first episode. “If your mate calls you out, it makes you feel like a bit of a mug.”
This campaign is incredibly important in communicating to men that they can play a part in tackling abuse, and Josh’s discussion across the two episodes is incredibly honest, empowering, and necessary.
Find out different ways you can safely help stop abuse towards women at gov.uk/enough