‘Sports banter' | Should employers ban office football chat?

Should employers ban office football chat?

Comradery, and the resulting chatter that inevitably occurs, is a common fixture of the workplace. And whilst many may argue that socialising within teams is a positive thing for workplace dynamics, some subjects can cause more division than unison.

As such, Chartered Management Institute Head, Ann Francke, has announced that the official stance of the body is that all football chat should be banned from the workplace.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, Francke explained that the key reason for this view is that such sports talk has the potential to exclude and alienate workers. "A lot of women, in particular, feel left out," she said. "They don't follow those sports and they don't like either being forced to talk about them or not being included."

She went on to add: "I have nothing against sports enthusiasts or cricket fans – that's great, but the issue is many people aren't cricket fans. It's a gateway to more laddish behaviour and – if it just goes unchecked – it's a signal of a more laddish culture.”

However, others have strongly refuted the claims, stating that the view was counterproductive and even potentially sexist. "It’s a terrible idea,” stated Sports Journalist Jacqui Oatley. “If you ban football chat or banter of any description, then all you're going to do is alienate the people who actually want to communicate with each other," she told the Today programme.

"It would be so, so negative to tell people not to talk about sport because girls don't like it or women don't like it, that's far more divisive,” she added.

Discussion around the comments has sparked a fierce debate on social media platforms, with some stating that arguments such as Francke’s draw the emphasis from more pressing issues. Twitter user @LaurenD1905 tweeted: “This is ridiculous – as a female football fan, this kind of presumption that women either don't like football or would want others to stop talking about something we're not interested in is ridiculous. Tackle (pardon the pun) the gender pay gap or workplace harassment instead.”

The opinion was shared by user @DiandreaM, who added that the same argument could be applied to various other subjects (in this case, ITV show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!). She tweeted: “Oh, yes, because us girlies only talk about unicorns and shoes and pretty dresses. You do know it's not the 19th Century any more, do you? Plus – nothing worse than others blathering about the sodding jungle thing and who did or didn't eat what!”

You are currently previewing this article.

This is the last preview available to you for 30 days.

To access more news, features, columns and opinions every day, create a free myGrapevine account.