Who is Eilidh Barbour? What did Scottish presenter say about football awards - Bill Copeland links explained

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Eilidh Barbour was one among many journalists to walk out of an alleged ‘sexist and racist’ speech at the SWFA’s Awards dinner.

Sky Sports’ Eilidh Barbour has recently spoken out against the Scottish Football Writers Association (SFWA) after their Awards ceremony involved alleged ‘sexist and racist jokes’.

The journalist took to Twitter to voice her disgust at the comments ,while several others joined her as they too took to the social media platform.

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The SFWA has since apologised after several prominent journalists walked out of the annual award dinner which took place on Sunday 8 May 2022.

In a statement, the SFWA said: “The Scottish Football Writers’ Association apologises to anyone offended or upset by material from one of our after-dinner speakers at last night’s annual awards dinner.

“We have agreed unanimously that this will act as a catalyst to review and improve the format of our future events to make it an enjoyable and inspirational event for all.”

The comments are thought to have been made by the former Criminal Defence Lawyer and the Awards’ keynote speaker, Bill Copeland, but this is yet to be confirmed.

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Who is Eilidh Barbour?

Born in Perthshire, Scotland, Barbour is a Scottish television presenter and reporter. She became the presenter of STV Rugby in the 2011-12 season and occasionally presented the results and international highlights on BBC Scotland’s Sportscene.

Barbour first gained national attention when she became a pitchside reporter at a first round FA Cup match during an episode of Final Score.

Since 2016, she has become a regular reporter for Final Score and in 2017, Barbour became the presenter of The Women’s Football Show.

Barbour was named as Hazel Irvine’s replacement as the BBC’s main presenter for golf coverage.

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The 39-year-old University of Stirling graduate also joined the presenting team for Match of the Day 2 as well as being part of the BBC presenter team for the Women’s World Cup.

Eilidh Barbour, right, is the BBC’s main golf presenterEilidh Barbour, right, is the BBC’s main golf presenter
Eilidh Barbour, right, is the BBC’s main golf presenter | Getty Images

What did Eilidh Barbour say after the football awards?

Writing on Twitter, Barbour said: “Never felt so unwelcome in the industry I work in than sitting at the Scottish Football Writers Awards. A huge reminder there is still so much to do in making our game an equal place #callitout #equal game.”

Barbour was not the only person to have spoken out against the ‘jokes’ that were made. Co-chairman of the training and campaigning group Women in Journalism Scotland (WiJ) Gabriella Bennett said: “I was at these awards tonight and sat through the same sexist and racist jokes made by a keynote speaker. My table walked out at the same time as Eilidh’s did.”

Bennett, who is also a journalist for The Times, said on BBC Lunchtime Live: “It’s worth pointing out that this kind of chat that happened at the Football Writers’ dinner last night does not stop in the dinner hall. It extends out. It flows into newsrooms - it is a cultural thing.

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“Last night was probably the sixth or seventh time I have attended this dinner - but there are always off- colour jokes made by the speakers, and I am using off-coloured as a descriptive word, but what I mean is sexist or misogynistic.

“It is also worth pointing out that there were loads of people laughing at these jokes. We were two tables in an enormous room and lots of people were finding it really funny...

“If this was one off-coloured joke, one offensive remark made in a 20 minute speech it would be a different thing, but it was the five minutes that I sat through jam-packed with sexism and misogyny.”

Who is Bill Copeland?

Bill Copeland was the SWFA Awards’ keynote speaker and has been alleged to have made sexist, racist and homophobic comments during his speech at the awards’ dinner.

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Copeland is a former Scottish lawyer, previously specialising in criminal defence work before switching to conveyancing.

He has been a popular after dinner speaker for many years. He has been part of the Gordon Poole Agency, although it would appear as if his page on their website no longer exists.

What is being done?

After the SFWA’s apology, WiJ have announced that they will be starting a campaign hoping to tackle “This issue of sexism and inequality in sports journalism.”

KickitOut and Women in Football also released a joint statement on twitter stating: “Events that celebrate talent in our game should be a time to focus on the positives and all the people who have played their part in pushing football forward.

“...We expect better and demande better.

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“The fact we have been made aware by those in attendance that they felt unwelcome in an industry they work in is unacceptable, and we stand with them.

“We acknowledge the apology issued by the Scottish Football Writers’ Association and look forward to their promised review of future events. In the meantime we will be reaching out to understand the full details and offer our support to those affected.”

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