Woman football agent in sex row

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The Independent Online
THE PROFESSIONAL Football Association came under fire in the Lords yesterday for twice turning away Britain's only female football agent from an awards ceremony because she is a woman.

But the Government warned of difficulties in any move to legislate to tackle the case of Rachel Anderson, 40, who was present in the Lords to hear Liberal Democrat Lord Razzall raise her case.

The Association insists its awards dinner has been a men-only occasion since its inception 25 years ago and will remain so.

Lord Razzall, a solicitor, presented a petition to peers calling on the Sex Discrimination Act to be changed to make the ban illegal.

Speaking shortly before England played Romania in the World Cup, he questioned that the PFA should discriminate "on the grounds of sex against a guest who happens to be a woman and happens to be the only woman registered as a FIFA agent".

The PFA had responsibilities that went further than that of simply a private club, which could discriminate on sexual grounds, he stressed.

Government Whip Lord Whitty said ministers' view on the issue was clear.

The Minister for Sport, Tony Banks, had refused to attend the event because of the PFA's attitude, he told peers. But Lord Whitty stressed the legislation did not extend to private events, and it was for the organisations "to decide their policy regarding visitors".

The PFA is a trade union for past and present professional footballers and is affiliated to the TUC. The annual dinner includes an award bestowed by the players and is considered the most prestigious accolade a footballer can receive.

Lord Razzall said there were a number of other bodies to which the law should apply and at the moment it was unclear whether it did. "The MCC is a clear example of this," he said.

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