Agent attacks `dinosaurs'

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S ONLY female football agent yesterday attacked the "dinosaurs" of the Professional Footballers' Association as she began a legal battle against them for alleged sex discrimination.

Rachel Anderson is seeking exemplary damages against the PFA for an alleged breach of the Sex Discrimination Act and "injury to feelings" after the association barred her from its annual dinner in April.

She had been invited by Julian Dicks, the West Ham player she represents, but was told she could not attend because of the PFA's "male only" policy.

Mrs Anderson has lodged a claim at the Central London County Court, and yesterday lawyers for both sides appeared at a 15-minute hearing in chambers before Judge Wigfield.

Afterwards Mrs Anderson, 41, who did not attend the hearing, said: "I find the PFA's attitude more insulting to their sex than to mine, it's not the common attitude of men in today's world - they are truly dinosaurs.

"How can they say I haven't got a case? If it was a private affair they would be quite right to say they can invite who they like. But the mere fact that I can't go because I'm a girl ... that's absurd."

Mrs Anderson said all players were allowed to take guests to the PFA dinner, and many other agents attended.

She said: "It's not just the dinner, but the ramifications could be enormous, players might think `what other places can't she get in?"'

Mrs Anderson claimed the PFA refused to allow women guests in a bid to prevent players taking their wives and girlfriends. But she said the decision could impact on her ability to do her job. "There's an enormous amount of networking," she said.

The Sports minister, Tony Banks, and Football Association chief executive Graham Kelly both boycotted the PFA dinner in support of Mrs Anderson. She has also received a letter of support from the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

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