Alex Scott: Why Football Focus' new lead presenter more than deserves it

Alex Scott

As usual, the women’s football trolls are out in full force on social media. After news broke that one of England’s most accomplished and revered female footballers, Alex Scott, had been chosen as Football Focus’ new presenter –– in came the old-fashioned, unfounded, fallacious accusations that she wasn’t fit for the job.

Some labelled her appointment as a “tick-box”, while others suggested that given Scott’s ethnicity and identified gender, she was hand-picked only to fill a quota. The most common negative commentary, however, proclaimed that the five-time Women’s Premier League Winner, seven-time FA Cup winner and England centurion hadn’t played football at the “highest level”.

These assertions are nonsensical, ignorant and perhaps intentionally triggering, yet there still seems a need to denounce such statements and prove their inaccuracy.

For those who do conform to the idea that Scott lacks a Gary Lineker esque professional career, consider these statistics.

Scott

The 36-year-old enjoyed three spells at Arsenal, where she won multiple honours and scored the winning goal in the UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2007. In total, the former right-back won 21 trophies during her time with the Gunners, while also enjoying time with Birmingham City and the Boston Breakers in the esteemed National Women’s Soccer League.

At international level, her achievements are just as noteworthy. Standing fourth on the all-time England appearances list, Scott has 140 caps to her name –– more than any English male player in history.

When you break it down in this way, it’s clear that Scott wasn’t just a professional footballer, but an indelible football legend. In actuality, she reached as high a level as one could possibly reach in the women’s game –– so those who initially made those objections can consider their argument well and truly quashed.

Even if Scott never played to the highest level, should this really matter in relation to being a broadcast journalist? Some of the game’s most renowned presenters –– Jake Humphrey, Mark Chapman and Football Focus’ former frontman, Dan Walker, don’t have international football backgrounds. They don’t have professional football backgrounds at all.

Scott

Because, what makes a good sports presenter is not necessarily being a former athlete yourself, but rather, being confident, charismatic and compelling in front of the camera.

Scott has these qualities in abundance. She holds a media degree from Staffordshire University in Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting, making her one of the very few show hosts to have both a professional football background and a qualification.

Media companies have acknowledged exactly this. As more women are beginning to get the chance to act as pundits on men’s football, it’s Scott who was a trailblazer for female representation in the industry. She was the first woman to ever report on a men’s FIFA World Cup and has worked for the likes of Sky Sports, BT and the BBC.

Consider being in Scott’s position right now. Knowing that she’s fully qualified for this role, knowing that she’s earned the right to be in this position, and knowing that there is nothing more she can do to prove herself –– yet still, she faces this inevitable criticism.

Speaking on the Between the Lines podcast, the former Lioness said these comments have affected her in the past, though she is better at dealing with the negativity now.

"I went through a stage where it really did affect me. I kind of lost myself and my personality because I knew everything that was going on around it,” she said.

"It's not until I actually got to a stage where I thought, 'I can't take this any more, it is becoming too much for me' that I spoke out about it.”

In truth, Scott has won a lot of people over already. She’s faced constant criticism over the years, but many have jumped to support her and congratulate her on this new challenge. For so much of her life, she let her football do the talking –– now it seems, she must let her talking itself do the same.

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