Racist jokes in football surfaced at the 2022 Scottish Football Writers’ Association award ceremony last weekend and almost made a mess of the event. The award ceremony was going smoothly until a keynote speaker at the event, Bill Copeland made sexist and racist jokes while delivering his speech.
Racist jokes according to Claire Horisk of Strickland Hall University of Missouri, Columbia, are “usefully understood as one kind of offensive joke, with the broader category including sexist and ethnic jokes along with jokes about sexual orientation, disability, nationality, profession, and other human traits”.
Bill Copeland, a former lawyer who the Scottish Football Writers’ Association invited to deliver a speech to the attendees of the association’s award ceremony, made racist jokes which offended some of those who attended the event to the extent some of them walked out of the annual award ceremony.
Reports claimed that Copeland reportedly used ‘p**f’ while joking about his dad allegedly being homophobic. He was also accused of using the word N-p’ while talking about Celtic signing three Japanese players.
Such words are regarded as sexist and racist jokes which were not tolerated by some of the attendees at the award ceremony in which former Manchester United coach, Sir Alex Ferguson received a lifetime achievement award.
After the event, Gabriella Bennett, the co-chair of Women in Journalism Scotland, said Copeland’s racist jokes were “next level” and enough to force her out of the event five minutes after the lawyer started delivering his speech.
“I enjoy it as an event, but there are always off-color jokes made by the speakers … sexist or misogynistic. But last night’s speech was next level. I walked out after about five minutes of maybe a 20-minute speech”, Bennett told BBC Radio Scotland.
“My table stood up to leave, and I saw Eilidh Barbour and people on her table start to leave. But there were loads of people laughing at these jokes. We were two tables in an enormous room and lots of people found it funny, so there’s lots of work that we still need to do in really change people’s minds about what’s acceptable.
“I’m no longer shocked or surprised by these kinds of offensive remarks masquerading as banter but I am sickened by normalizing this kind of thing. It’s incredibly insidious. It’s damaging for women trying to be respected. It allows men to speak to women in a certain way in a professional situation.”
Also, equality campaign groups Kick It Out and Women in Football, issued a joint statement to condemn the lawyer’s racist jokes.
“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”, the joint statement read.
Also, Eilidh Barbour, BBC Sport, and Sky Sports broadcaster, took to her Twitter page to tweet: “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 #equalgame”.
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 #equalgame— Eilidh Barbour 💙🤍 (@EilidhBarbour) May 8, 2022
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 Eilidh’s did https://t.co/aEAV4VqLtn— Gabriella Bennett (@palebackwriter) May 8, 2022
Scottish Football Writers’ Association apologized for Bill Copeland’s racist jokes
Due to the backlash, Bill Copeland’s racist jokes attracted to the Scottish Football Writers’ Association (SFWA), the association had to issue a statement to apologize for the unwelcomed jokes.
In its statement, the SFWA said the incident would catalyze review and improve the format of the association’s future events.
“The Scottish Football Writers’ Association apologizes to anyone offended or upset by material from one of our after-dinner speakers at last night’s annual awards dinner,” SFWA said.
“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.”
On the other hand, a report by the Guardian claimed that a representative of Bill Copeland had said the lawyer was sorry for the alleged racist jokes and stand by the statement of the SFWA.
At the time of publishing this report, there has not been any official statement from aggrieved associations or equality campaigners on what the next line of action would be against the retired lawyer.