Alan Pardew & Ill-Advised Rape Comments

3 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   March 16, 2009  |     12

Last night, viewers of the BBC2 programme “Match Of The Day 2″ (which, like most sequels, largely fails to capture the excitement of the original) were somewhat surprised to hear a comment made by the former West Ham United and Charlton Athletic manager Alan Pardew which likened a tackle by Michael Essien to (a?) rape. In this day and age, any comment that transgresses a dividing line between what is considered to be acceptable and what isn’t. The BBC reportedly fielded thirty-five complaints on the subject last night, although whether that number has been swollen after press reports on the the story today hasn’t been confirmed by the BBC yet.

So, is this an example of (so help me God) “Political Correctness Gone Made”? Well, no, not really. Rape is obviously a pretty horrific concept, and there is an exceptionally strong case to be made for saying that Pardew should have thought through what he said prior to saying it. There is a case for saying that he was merely expressing the language of the changing room in a television studio, but anyone that has spent any time in football dressing rooms will be able to confirm that there are many other things that are said in them that should never be said in front of television cameras. It was a stupid thing to say, and that should probably be the end of the matter.

And yet, and yet. A quick check of the comments pages of some of the biggest newspapers suggest that there are certainly more apologists for Pardew over this comment than there were for him while he was the manager of West Ham United. Some have argued that Pardew was being metaphorical rather than literal, turning to the dictionary’s alternative definitions of the word. “Violation, despoiling or abuse”, says the Chambers English Dictionary, after all. This argument only has a limited merit to it, even though it is technically correct. Footballers and football managers aren’t exactly celebrated for their use of alliteration and verbal trickery, and it’s difficult to imagine that Pardew was being purposefully metaphorical when he used the word. The key question is this: would it have been any better or worse had he called Michael Essien a rapist?

Of course, there are those that have their alternative agendas that will use this as a stick to beat the BBC with. The reaction in newspapers has been interesting. Many have a clear anti-BBC bias, which has a solid reasoning behind it. The Times, The Sun and The News of The World are owned by Rupert Murdoch. Sky TV considers the licence fee as little short of an anti-competitive bonus towards the BBC. The Daily Mail considers the BBC to the supreme overlords of “Political Correctness Gone Mad” and went to town to a ridiculous extent in campaigns against the corporation last year, and if this seems pretty cut and dried, you should consider the comments made when Carol Thatcher described a black tennis player as looking like a “golliwog” a couple of months ago which didn’t stop far short of endorsing her racism.

The truth, of course, is some way between the two extremes. It’s not the most outrageous thing ever said on live television, but it was a pretty stupid thing to say and Pardew should be criticised for having said it. We shall see whether this turns into a storm in a teacup or not. Neither making excuses for his words nor affecting mock outrage will really do anything of much substance. It would be for the best if he steers clear of television studios for a while.



Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • March 17, 2009 at 9:34 am

    The Spelling Police

    “Political Correctness Gone Made” … ”Made”??!! – Thats just mad!!

  • March 17, 2009 at 10:50 am


    It’s extremely clumsy, at best.

    I know you’ve written a lot about commentary and commentators on here in the past. Would you say that the whole art has become more mired in platitude these days? As far as I can see, Pardew’s gaffe seems to be typical of pundits’ tendency to recycle an emphatic-sounding word they heard earlier in the day without stopping to consider what it means.

    While we’re on the subject – well, vaguely – is there any chance of a post on the abuse of the present perfect tense by pundits? ‘He’s gone in with his leg raised’/ ‘He has argued with the referee’ etc? Of the British managers I can think of, I’m sure only Ferguson and the relatively intelligentsia-like figures of O’Neill and Coppell don’t do it.

  • March 17, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Gervillian Swike

    I think it was a truly awful thing to say. The issue for me is that it betrays in Pardew a general tendency – for he surely can’t have planned Match of the Day 2 to be the first time he’d ever use the word in this way – to trivialise its true meaning by using it in everyday speech. This isn’t like the word “kill” or “murder” or “hammer” or “annihilate”; it’s a highly emotive word used to describe a pretty horrific action, and one of which most people have a perception of being horrific. So to bring it into your everyday language to describe a dodgy tackle – well, I think it says something about the man himself. And at the very least that thing is “he’s not suited to punditry and shouldn’t darken a sofa on TV again”.

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