Soccer-Pressure heaping on Scudamore over sexist emails

* Sports Minister says emails "completely unacceptable"

* FIFA executive committee member explains her dismay (Recasts after more reaction)

By Sam Holden

LONDON, May 13 (Reuters) - Pressure is mounting on the Premier League to act after chief executive Richard Scudamore sent sexist emails, with a top FIFA official and a Government minister adding their voices to the criticism on Tuesday.

Scudamore was forced to apologise at the weekend after a newspaper revealed details of emails he sent to friends that were exposed by a female employee, the contents of which were described as "completely unacceptable" by the Sports Minister.

A Manchester United Supporters Trust official said the 54-year-old's position was now "clearly untenable".

Scudamore, who has previously backed equality for women in football, faced accusations of hypocrisy but the Football Association said it was a matter for the Premier League to deal with.

"I found the content of those emails completely unacceptable and very disappointing particularly at a time when there is so much good work and progress being made promoting women's sport," Sports Minister Helen Grant said in a statement.

Australian Moya Dodd, one of three women on the executive committee of world football's governing body FIFA, told a panel at the Soccerex Asian Forum in Jordan she was dismayed by Scudamore's comments.

"It's disappointing the way women are sometimes talked about when people think nobody's listening and nobody's watching," said Dodd, a lawyer who is also a vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation.

"The challenge for us in football is to make sure the game is open to everyone so the next time you hear people speaking like that in your environment or making a derogatory comment about a woman or a man insulting another man by suggesting he has female characteristics, you should challenge him.

"As a woman I would find that insulting," Dodd added. "It's time we challenged ourselves about whether we could be more open to females and we are as inclusive as we can be."

According to media reports, Scudamore earns more than 1.2 million pounds ($2.02 million) a year.


He has helped make the Premier League the most lucrative league in the world since taking over as chief executive in 1999. The competition now has a global TV rights deal worth more than three billion pounds.

The extent of Scudamore's power in the domestic game means his comments are scrutinised throughout the world and some fear a failure to act could be damaging to his organisation.

"Richard Scudamore's position is now clearly untenable," said Sean Bones, vice chairman of the Manchester United Supporters Trust.

"Just because he has brought large sums of money into the Premiership through lucrative TV rights deals it should not make him exempt from the same employment laws that apply to every other person in the UK.

"How can it be fair that he isn't even being investigated by the Premiership and FA?", asked Bones.

John Amaechi, the gay former National Basketball Association player who is now an equality campaigner, compared the emails to racist comments Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made in a private conversation that were later exposed.

Sterling was banned for life by the NBA last month but Amaechi told the BBC, in reference to Scudamore, that "he has pulled a Donald Sterling but he will get away with it".

The situation has also drawn comparisons with the case of former Chelsea footballer Paul Elliott who had to resign after 20 years with anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out following the use of a racist term in a private message that was leaked.

"We expect a strong process for those in the boardroom as well as players and supporters who are in the public eye, particularly for organisations which have a strong code of conduct, especially if you are somebody who preaches equality," said Kick It Out chairman Lord Ouseley.


"But football appears to have a different rule for those in the boardroom."

Gianni Infantino, general secretary of European soccer's governing body UEFA, said he did not know the specifics of the case but emphasised the importance of equality in the game.

"Anyone involved in football should not do anything that is discriminatory," he said.

The Premier League has yet to take any action against Scudamore who is answerable to each of its 20 top-flight clubs.

"The chief executive has immediately apologised for the inappropriate comments contained in private correspondence," the organisation said on Monday.

"He also followed board procedure by reporting the matter to the acting non-executive chair of the board, the chair of the Audit and Remuneration Committee and the shareholders who are the principal decision-making authority of the Premier League to whom the chief executive is ultimately responsible.

"The Premier League is always happy to meet appropriate organisations who wish to discuss their concerns in this area," it added.

($1 = 0.5939 British Pounds) (Additional reporting by Mike Collett and Steve Tongue, editing by Tony Jimenez)