Tottenham Hotspur sent out a survey this morning to its American supporters to ascertain interest in the club and the sport of football in the United States. That in and of itself is not a problem. However, at least one question in that survey is at bare minimum offensive and is already causing controversy online and on social media.
The version of the survey is “specifically tailored to our US fans,” according to the introductory email, and is signed by “Ashley Brown, Research and Insight Manager, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.” The content of the survey mostly focuses on issues like sports consumption, demographics, and Tottenham Hotspur fandom. There are questions about what draws supporters to Tottenham, how they started following Spurs, how fans watch matches, supporter club memberships, events, and other marketing-related issues.
And then, towards the end and seemingly out of the blue, there’s this.
The intent of the question is more or less clear: to gauge various readers’ opinions on gender relations and, more broadly, overall politics. It is understood that this is somewhat common in some kinds of surveys as it helps to ascertain responder bias. It comes in the context of other statements such as “I like to take risks,” “I sometimes treat myself to things I don’t need,” and “I gravitate towards the arts, music, and culture.”
Nevertheless, asking this question is absolutely indefensible, and as Spurs supporters and people who live in the year 2018 we are utterly flabbergasted that it was included. Tottenham sent its fans a survey that suggests to a large segment of fans that they might be inferior — that their possible inferiority is a question the club wants to pose. Whatever may have been intended, the inclusion of this question has justly been read as an affront to women fans. Sexism is real, it is pervasive, and it unfortunately still affects women of all walks of life today. What we absolutely do not need is to provide a platform in a survey about a football team for the expression of sexist viewpoints.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with surveying Tottenham fans, but the club must remember that it is first of all a public trust that does not exist and does not survive without its fans. Before sending out an official communication the club should ask, “does this communication in any way hurt or exclude Tottenham fans?”
As fans, and as people who have a vested interest in Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, we want to give the club the benefit of the doubt here. We want to say that this is a survey from a contracted third party poll-maker that was not properly vetted by the club before being distributed, and that this question somehow slipped through quality control. This could even be the case. We don’t know.
However, to see something like this and not call it out would be to make as big an error as including the question to begin with. We are disappointed that a survey that is branded with the club that we love and follow would include a sexist question like this one. We hope Tottenham Hotspur realizes the offensive nature of this survey and takes steps to apologize. We also hope that this is a moment that will never again be repeated.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms inclusion of this question. Tottenham Hotspur is for everyone.