Woman wins FA sex bias appeal

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The Independent Online
A FEMALE FOOTBALL coach, who claims she was denied an advanced qualification because she was a woman, won her sex discrimination case yesterday against the Football Association.

Vanessa Hardwick, 33, complained that male coaches, including former Premiership players, had passed an FA course even though they achieved lower marks than she did. She won her claim at a London industrial tribunal but the FA took the case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal, which yesterday upheld the original decision. Another tribunal hearing will be held to agree compensation, including loss of earnings.

"I am obviously delighted with the outcome and I just hope the FA will now apologise and give me an advanced licence," said Miss Hardwick, who works as a PE teacher in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and coaches the Oxford United women's team. Miss Hardwick said she hoped to run courses for other female coaches. Only three women hold the FA's advanced coaching licence, compared with 1,500 men.

Alice Leonard, head of legal and advice services for the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: "Women should have the same opportunity as men to pursue a career in sport. Prejudice shouldn't be allowed to deny women the chance to succeed in their chosen profession."

An FA spokeswoman said that it accepted the judgment but was "deeply disappointed" with the tribunal outcome.