Implement quotas for women in politics and women in sports coverage

Now that the World Cup is over, it is a good time to say what i have learnt and it is not about football. It is about what belongs to men and what belongs to women. Sports has a way of showing that divide sharply.

What i have learnt from CVM TV’s exclusive coverage of the FIFA World Cup is that football is for men. Football is the domain of men. For the entire duration of the competition, we had a male host with male commentators watching men play with occasional shots of their male coaches and one or two females in the audience crying laughing or cheering.( I am thinking more about how ideas of gender and sex function in postcolonial, colonial, neoliberal societies like ours.)

If you think about the recent motion passed in parliament by Senator Imani Duncan Pryce , to improve the representation of women in politics , the World Cup football coverage shows us how comfortable we are with the idea of where men belong and where women do not belong (these gender divisions). For it is difficult to think that nowhere in the island was there a woman capable of giving any thoughts or views on the competition. No female coach, no former Reggae Girl, no woman nowhere. But i believe that it is not that we couldn’t find any it is that we didn’t need any. And the same is true for women in positions of leadership, they can if they want to but we can get along fine without them because they bring little to the table anyway. How many times have you heard someone say we need a woman on the team because she “knows how to handle money”or “she knows how to stretch the resources”?

It is difficult to talk about women as leaders without constantly examining the ways in which we reinforce the norms against leadership.

It is important to see women in conversations about sports. Sports is an important part of every society and while all women are not interested in sports neither are all men and so there is no justification for making the commentary and conversation dominated by men. This is only sexist. In a football competition if we are able to see both men and women talking about something that both men and women do (play football) then we are led to believe that everybody has something to say. It doesn’t belong to men.

During the CVM TV coverage we were constantly reminded of where women fit. A version of this commercial for example was played throughout.

World Cup and Red Stripe Football Mondays

 It is interesting to compare the coverage of the World Cup to the “Red Stripe Football Mondays” production. Denyque is the host alongside Neville Bell and Gareth Geddes who are the analyst. Even this distinction is meant to make the difference because the real experts are Neville and Gjon.


Denyque explains being the host and being involved in Red Stripe Football Mondays.

Dahlia Harris used to host a programme called “Eye on Sports” on Television Jamaica (TVJ), a search for more details of her time here revealed no results.

In other places

In the United States, Sports Entertainment company ESPN announced a team of reporters which included a woman, Julie Foudy.

ESPN today announced the five television reporters – Julie FoudyJeremy SchaapJohn SutcliffeBob Woodruff and ESPN Brazil’s Rubens Pozzi – for its unprecedented coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer. The reporters will appear on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC during pre-match, halftime and post-match shows, SportsCenterESPN FCand FIFA World Cup-themed news and information programs, such as World Cup Tonight, throughout the month-long tournament.

Foudy, the former U.S. Women’s National Team player who covered the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, for espnW, ESPN and ABC News, will serve as general assignment reporter for those same outlets. Schaap, the seven-time Emmy award-winning journalist, will cover the United States Men’s National Team from training camp in mid-May through the completion of the World Cup.

However this was ESPN’s list of commentators

Ian Darke – Much has been said and written about Darke, who completed a rather remarkable journey to the top of the American soccer broadcasting mountain by unseating Martin Tyler as ESPN’s lead commentator for this World Cup.

Darke’s easy affability and charm make him a joy to listen to, and his commentary has only gotten better over the last ten years. Darke has always been quality, but if you go back and compare his commentary on the world feed at the 2002 World Cup, for instance, to his commentary today you’ll notice marked improvement.

Simply put, Darke is in the form of his life right now, with something of a dream job.

Darke will call all USA matches with Taylor Twellman, and all England matches with McManaman. Darke will have around 18 games to work in the tournament, including the final. What will be interesting to see is who his partner is for those latter games – ESPN might want to play that assignment by ear. Darke, on the other hand, is the undisputed #1.

Jon Champion – When ESPN made the decision to let Tyler go for this tournament, they knew they were going to need a top announcer to pair with Darke. Jon Champion is the man.

Judging by his early assignments, which include Spain – Netherlands and Germany – Portugal, Champion the clear #2 announcer, and he looks a good bet to work the semi-final and third-place game down the road.

Champion has worked World Cup Finals in the past, and is one of the best and most respected commentators in the game. He has been paired with Stuart Robson, and will mostly focus on European teams. Champion, who is impeccably prepared for each game he works, is a slam-dunk for ESPN who makes this roster of talent even better than the one ESPN took to South Africa.

Adrian Healey – Speaking of affability, Healey is possibly the most gregarious and funniest commentator ESPN has, and is a familiar voice from his years of work on the network.

Healey has worked the last two World Cups for ESPN and not made it out of the group stage, and it he appears to be a bit of a handyman for this tournament as well. Healey is set to work four games in the first week with three different partners, including Twellman – who he is familiar with from their MLS coverage – Alejandro Moreno, and Efan Ekoku.

Healey isn’t nearly as polished as many of ESPN’s other announcers, and his calling card is his enthusiasm during games. Healey tells a good story, but his games often feature a lot of dead air. In any case, Healey is a fun commentator, and all of his games thus far feature South American or African teams.

Derek Rae – No one going to this World Cup for ESPN has as much experience with the network as the impeccable Derek Rae, who has been working in some capacity for ESPN for more than 20 years.

Classically undervalued, Rae is heard calling the Scottish Premier League on BT Sport nowadays, but he remains one of the best announcers in the sport. Rae will feature on the first weekend of the tournament, calling two high-profile matches including Argentina – Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Maracana with Roberto Martinez, one of the most mouth-watering pairings of the tournament.

Rae, the only Scotsman calling games, should slide in as ESPN’s number three man for this tournament, and he should be around for the quarterfinals. Rae will also work with Ekoku and the insufferable Kasey Keller during the group stage. A joy to listen to.

Daniel Mann – A young broadcaster, Mann worked the 2010 tournament for ESPN in 3D, and his duties included calling the final.

Mann may be familiar to viewers through his work on the English Premier League, and he’s an up-and-comer in the business – someone for FOX to potentially keep their eye on for 2018.

Mann won’t be pulling any glamour assignments for regular television in this tournament; he seems to be ESPN’s #5 announcer – which shows you how deep ESPN’s pool of talent is.

Fernando Palomo – Fernando Palomo, who has covered Mexico for ESPN since the network won the rights to their home games in 2013, will also cover Mexico in English for ESPN during the World Cup.

Palomo, an El Salvadorian, is most notable for his Spanish commentary. He will only call Mexico games in English. His partner for all those games will be Alejandro Moreno. Palomo has great passion, even if his commentary can be choppy at times.

Steve McManaman will split time between the studio and stadiums. He appears to be Darke’s main partner for all games other than the ones involving the USA, and he is the color analyst for all England games.

It will be interesting to see if his partnership with Darke continues into the knockout rounds. Macca, as he is affectionately known, will be terrific wherever he’s employed.

Taylor Twellman will also split time, doing US games, along with a few other select broadcasts like Columbia v. Greece on the opening weekend. Possibly the best analyst the United States has ever produced. He’ll be in the studio more as the tournament progresses.

Efan Ekoku will also split time, but primarily be a game analyst. Four years ago, he was paired with Martin Tyler on the first team that called the final. His role appears to be reduced this time around, but he’ll be used as an expert on African teams – he has three in his first four games.

Stewart Robson will call marquee matches with Jon Champion, and will be around as primarily and perhaps only a color analyst into the latter stages.

Alejandro Moreno will do more than call Mexico matches; he’s also calling games with Adrian Healey. Moreno could see some time in the studio too.

Kasey Keller call low-profile games alongside Daniel Mann, and be featured on all USA broadcasts. He’ll be used more in the studio as the tournament progresses, and it’d be good to see some progress from his as an announcer this time around. His preparation appears to be lacking at times.

Roberto Martinez will call one game, but do most of his work from the studio, where he is excellent.

Studio analysts include Alexi Lalas (USA), Santiago Solari (Argentina), Michael Ballack (Germany), Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Netherlands), Gilberto (Brazil), along with many of the people listed above.

Bob Ley is the primary host and perhaps the face of soccer on ESPN, so it’s interesting that Mike Tirico will host the Final. In any case, Tirico will do a good job. Lynsey Hipsgrave is the third host here, she may be ESPN’s answer to Rebecca Lowe. It’s her first time on American television.


At the same time in England Jacqui Oatley was announced as the first English female commentator to broadcast from the World Cup.

The question again is, who is responsible for including women, men or women themselves? The answer for me is both. So where are the women who are fed up with being excluded from national conversations on football? where are the women who think that football is not just a man’s game? where are the women who know they have something to add,to share? If joining the CVM TV panel of experts is not it, then where are the all female panel that we are creating?

Did the men on the panel or the producer for the show have a moment where they felt like hmmm maybe we could include some other perspectives to make this interesting? Maybe this panel should have some women? Do men ever notice that they are talking to themselves and it is not only about them?

Interestingly with the last experience we had watching exclusive coverage of the Olympics on CVM TV, the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica stepped in this year to ensure that all Jamaica could watch the game interrupted.

Jamaica’s Broadcasting Commission has issued a strong warning to CVM Television ahead of the start of the Football World Cup on June 12.

The commission has reaffirmed that the exclusive television rights holder must improve its islandwide reach before the kick off of the tournament in Brazil.

The commission disclosed on Friday that it met with the management of CVM  on March 27 and May 13, and that during these meetings, the television compny was told that its coverage in several areas throughout the country is unacceptable.

“This is an event… which is of special importance to the Jamaican public, and we have been receiving several anxious queries from citizens concerning what they report to us as no coverage, poor CVM signals, unacceptable reception quality, among other comments, by this company,” said Professor Hopeton Dunn, Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, at a press conference in Kingston.

He acknowledged that improvements had been made to CVM’ss reception, but stressed that it remains well below the required standard.

June 6, has been set as the date for another review of CVM’s reception throughout the island.

CVM TV complied with request by the Broadcasting Commission.

“In its latest regulatory report to the Broadcasting Commission last week Friday (June 6, 2014), CVM advised that it had carried out a range of corrective actions including realignment of transmission antennae, reconfiguring internal systems and providing satellite decoders to a number of cable companies across nine parishes.”

According to CVM upgrading works were done to cable companies in Portland, St Thomas, St Catherine, St Elizabeth, St Ann, St Andrew, St Mary, St James, and Clarendon.

“As it relates to direct signals, CVM TV reported that it had increased power by installing Field Effect Transistors (FETs) and had increased antenna heights in Eastern Portland which should yield improved coverage in Priestman’s River, Commodore, Fair Prospect, Manchioneal and surrounding communities,” the release said.


Why Quotas make sense

The situation in sports is a another dimension of  colonial neoliberal societies. The rights of women or equity between genders is not guaranteed, but further in Jamaica there is much confusion or conflating of culture with inequity and misrepresentation. We normalize a position of inequality for women and then we claim it is our culture. Or we accept it as culture.

Quotas make.  While we try to explain that women should be included we should also ensure that they are. After the World Cup i am clear that these kinds of legislation need to happen for change to happen.

We need a body that is similar to the Broadcasting Commission that acts in the interest in women in sports. A body that CVM TV and other local broadcasters would have to comply with to ensure there is a balance in the number of men and women who cover all sports.

I support the use of quotas in parliament to increase the representation of women in politics and the use of quotas in Sports coverage.



2 thoughts on “Implement quotas for women in politics and women in sports coverage”

  1. Reblogged this on Petchary's Blog and commented:
    The World Cup is over, but in this great blog post Afifa Aza expresses the same thoughts that have been running through my mind throughout the tournament.”So where are the women who are fed up with being excluded from national conversations on football? where are the women who think that football is not just a man’s game? where are the women who know they have something to add,to share?” I am quickly putting my hand up, along with many other Jamaican women! Thanks so much for this, Afifa!

  2. I reblogged this and enjoyed it so much! I am a huge football fan and always have been, and I know many other women who know a great deal about sport. You echoed my thoughts exactly! I tweeted several times to CVM Television “Where are the women commentators?” The women were just in the background to add “sex appeal,” giggle and shout and cheer!

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