Women’s Aid to remove Bristol City from Football United Against Domestic Violence campaign materials
Women’s Aid has taken the decision to remove Bristol City from our Football United Against Domestic Violence campaign materials following the decision to sign convicted domestic abuse perpetrator Danny Simpson for the remainder of the 20/21 season.
While we understand that Simpson’s court case was in 2015 and his sentence for ‘throttling’ his girlfriend has been served, there is the significant issue that as an experienced and successful football player, he will be a role model for young fans and team mates. There is no public message about rehabilitation or perpetrator programmes, or understanding that domestic abuse is rarely a one off event, but an ongoing pattern of control and fear. Under a fifth of women experiencing abuse ever contact the police, and most domestic abuse will never be prosecuted.
Following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, alongside many other women who have been killed, there is currently a national conversation on how we can reduce violence against women. One of the main ways we can do this is by not ignoring or minimising violence against women where it happens. On average, one woman is killed by a current or former partner every four days in the UK – it is vital we talk about it and take it seriously. This announcement comes in the same week that a former Bristol City player, Alhaji Sesay has been given a ten year prison sentence for rape and attempted rape after separate attacks on two women, and we would hope the club would want to send a clear message on respect, consent and healthy relationships for players.
In 2014 Bristol City signed our Football United pledge to say ‘We will send a clear message in our club that violence against women and children is completely unacceptable’, it sadly seems that in 2021 that this is not the case, as the message is not there. We have spoken to the club who have been very open with us in advance of signing Danny Simpson and remain committed to this important campaign, which we will be working on in the run up to the Euros. We leave an open door for further discussion about this with Bristol City, and hope this will be the start of an important conversation with their current staff team”.