SINGAPORE — Special rules introduced to “protect” female players in Singapore’s first-ever mixed-gender futsal tournament have sparked a discussion online as to whether the rules are sexist or not.
The D2D Mixed Fives is a mixed-gender grassroots tournament organised by amateur sporting event company D2D Sports. The inaugural competition, which received sign-ups from six teams, kicked off on Oct 26 and will run until Jan 18, according to Yahoo News Singapore.
In order to promote the participation of female outfield players and ensure their safety on the pitch, a special set of rules have reportedly been implemented for the Mixed Fives league:
Any direct free-kick fouls committed on female players will lead to the awarding of a penalty kickGoals scored by female players will be counted as double pointsEach team is limited to committing six fouls in each half. The opposing team will be awarded a penalty for every subsequent foulPlayers deemed “overly aggressive” will be sidelined for a minimum of two minutes during the game.
The rules were shared on Sunday (Nov 5) by Reddit user “Kehinog” on the “askSingapore” subreddit along with the question: Do you think this is sexist?
The discussion thread has since garnered over 200 upvotes and 80 comments, with Redditors arguing both sides.
Those who agreed that the rules were “sexist” claimed that it could make female players feel “belittled” and send a message that women are “less capable” than men.
One Redditor wrote: “How do we know that 1:2 is the right ratio for men versus women in soccer goals? Now you end up making women either feel demeaned for being catered to, or men demeaned for having a silly mountain to climb.”
Several users, however, argued that the rules were simply taking into account the inherent differences between the two sexes in terms of physical strength.
One user noted: “There’s a reason males and females don’t compete with each other in physical sports in the Olympics. Men are better. Period. Some women are better than men. But if you want to look at the best of the best athletes, men beat women physically.”
A Reddit user named “pingmr” pointed out that competitive sports, in general, “have been creating all kinds of rules in the interest of fairness”. The user goes on to cite weight classes in wrestling as well as the banning of high-tech suits in swimming as examples.
A few netizens opined that the organisers were “overcomplicating” the rules.
“Just enforce say a minimum of one or two females a team to be on the field at all times, and done,” suggested one Redditor.
Others claimed that the intention of the rules was not to discriminate against women, but rather “to be inclusive”.
This was because rewarding goals scored by female players with double the points would “incentivise” teams to let their female counterparts participate more actively.
Using mixed tag rugby as an example, user “sghcw” shared that goals scored by women were also “worth more” than men’s in the sport.
“The reason for this was not necessarily because women are bad at sport in general, but was to encourage the team to tactically set up so that women had a higher chance of scoring,” the user explained.
“Often what happens is that the men on the team pass (among) themselves and play at the exclusion of the women. Teams (that) actively included women in their strategy would be rewarded.”
In an episode of Yahoo Southeast Asia’s Footballing Weekly podcast show, D2D Sports’ executive director Rasvinder Singh shared that he had crafted the rules for Mixed Fives after taking in feedback from coaches and female players of previous futsal events.
“Some women players are afraid of playing against men. It’s a league, it’s competitive so they’re afraid that it might get a bit too aggressive (and) they don’t want to get injured,” Mr Singh said.
He added that the intention behind rewarding goals scored by female players more is to “encourage teams to field more women as outfield players” rather than just filling a position with a woman as a “token”.
When asked by podcast co-host Neil Humphreys if the rules could be deemed “patronising” by some women, Mr Singh answered that he would monitor the feedback.
Responding to TODAY’s queries, Mr Singh shared that two games have been played since the season began on Oct 26.
“At the moment, everyone regardless of gender seems to enjoy the atmosphere of the matches and the intensity,” he said, adding that he has not received any feedback from the league’s female participants so far.
Mr Singh said the rules would be assessed again at the end of the season after taking the feedback of the participating teams.