UKGM vs BAFA – GB Women’s accusations rise to the fore once more

In a post Saturday afternoon the UK Gridiron Memes Facebook page released a post that looks likely to once again reignite the firestorm surrounding the Great British Women’s Football programme, the British American Football Association, and claims of assault, bullying, negligence and misconduct by the GB Women’s Coaching staff, and BAFA itself. 

This controversial topic was initially raised back in June, just days before the GB Lions Women’s team were to head to Canada for their first ever World Championships appearance, when the meme page released a very out of character post detailing a wide variety of claims against the GB Women’s Coaching staff and the sport’s National Governing Body.

The initial post was an amalgamation of some very serious and direct personal accusations, mixed with anecdotes, and laced with UKGM’s familiar irreverent tone.

As such, while many in the community voiced support for the ‘exposé’ and called for immediate action to be taken, there were also those that noted a heavy reliance on anecdotes and rumour, and a definite, if understandable, bias in the framing around many of the claims.

Even so, in the big picture the post went at least some ways to achieving its goals, as it did draw a reaction from BAFA, including an announced investigation into the claims made.

Some weeks of quiet ensued, until in August BAFA shared an announcement that noted;

‘The conclusion of the review found no evidence of wrongdoing or malpractice among any staff on the programme’ and that BAFA would ‘continue to take steps to safeguard all involved in the sport.’

Unsurprisingly, this statement received significant backlash from UKGM, with claims of a ‘cover up’ and ineffective leadership from the NGB. Some sparring ensued between the meme page, and members of the current GB Lions team who spoke out in support of their staff and programme, UKGM claiming the teams vocal support was clearly scripted.

And then, perhaps unexpectedly, things went rather quiet…

…And now we know why.

Per Saturday’s post, and in line with rumblings DC had been hearing from across the community, UKGM had been staying quiet on the subject due in part to the potential legal consequences of their actions, while also looking into the possibility of another media outlet picking up and further investigating the claims made.

Per the post:

“We had to stay quiet on the topic for a while as BAFA have tried to gag UK Gridiron Memes by threatening to sue us for defamation through an appointed lawyer.”

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As can be seen from the correspondence shared with the post, some jousting of words back and forth had since ensued between the Meme Page and BAFA’s legal representation, and as the recent post shows, UKGM clearly now feel confident enough to bring the issues into the limelight once again. They followed up their most recent correspondence with BAFA’s Representatives, dated 3 November 2017, with their extensive post the following day.

In a change of tack for the page, the post (embedded below) takes a far more cohesive approach to laying out the situation. While they can’t help from straying into colloquialisms from time to time, it nonetheless lays out a clear timeline of events, from UKGM’s perspective, and strongly emphasises that the actions they take are taken with the best interests of the sport in mind. It includes a link to a google drive where many of the social media posts, conversations, and correspondence discussed within the post are included, with some redactions.

The post concludes with calls for the community to assist them in getting larger media outlets/women’s support organisations to also look into the story, for the best interests of those women affected.

DC have reached out to the British American Football Association and GB Women’s Football for any response to the post and are waiting to hear back.

As ever, DC would encourage the Britball community to display patience and understanding when discussing this highly sensitive topic online, and remember that while for many this is scandal and gossip, for many this has a direct and immediate relevance to their life and livelihood. As ever, we would emphasise that while UKGM have ensured they are very open in this latest post in sharing all correspondence between themselves and BAFA/BAFA’s representatives, that we’re still only seeing one side a very complex situation.

 

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Nick

Nick ‘Willy Tee’ Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he’s spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general ‘BUAFL wafflage’. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1