FA pays out pounds 10,000 to bar female coach

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The Independent Online
THE FOOTBALL Association was fending off accusations of sexism yesterday after paying a senior woman coach an extra pounds 10,000 in compensation rather than give her an advanced licence as recommended by an employment tribunal.

Vanessa Hardwick, one of the country's most qualified female coaches, revealed blatant sexism within the game when she took her case to an industrial tribunal. The 33-year-old was refused an advancedlicence despite gaining higher scores than men who were granted the licence. Only three of almost 2,000 advanced licences are held by women.

At her tribunal last month Ted Copeland, then manager of the England women's team, had said that women were too emotional because of "their menstrual problems".

Ms Hardwick won her sex discrimination case before the employment tribunal, which ordered the FA to pay her pounds 16,000 damages and grant her the advanced qualification. Should it to do so within 28 days, the tribunal ordered a further settlement of pounds 10,000. The tribunal also recommended that future assessors of the advanced licence should be given equal opportunities training within the next six months.

However, the sporting body chose not to give Ms Hardwick the advanced certificate and yesterday her solicitors received a cheque for pounds 27,162. "I am bitterly disappointed that they have decided not to give me the licence," she said. She added: "The FA has accepted the recommendation on equal opportunities training which is good news, but the crucial one for me was the licence."

She said the decision has forced her to desert her native country and take up a coaching post in the United States, where the female game has received such status that the national team was recently invited to the meet the President. "There is no future for me in this country" she said.

Ms Hardwick, a former PE teacher who was named FA Regional Coach of the Year, told the tribunal that her treatment on the two-week course at the FA's National Sports Council Coaching Centre in Lilleshall, Shropshire, severely damaged her self confidence. The tribunal heard that Ms Hardwick, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was failed despite achieving higher grades than the former England footballer Sammy Lee and the ex-West Ham player Paul Allen.

The FA insisted that there was no "glass ceiling" preventing women reaching the top. A spokeswoman said yesterday: "We would not give the licence to someone who has not achieved the grade. [But] we do actually want more female coaches and we are actively trying to encourage them. We now have a female coach [Hope Powell] for the national team."

She said the FA had a string of projects to encourage women including special grants to study coaching.

"There is certainly massive change in the perception in the women's game within football both national and internationally. You will always get some people who disagree but the tide is turning against the few dissenting voices.

"You can't have a national game if half the country is not playing."