The shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award was released last night, meeting with criticism in some quarters when it became clear that it included no female sporting figures.
The all-male shortlist for the prestigious annual title included British world 5,000m champion Mo Farah, men’s tennis world number three Andy Murray and golfer Rory McIlroy, along with seven other sportsmen – but no women.
The shortlist was compiled from lists of ten nominees submitted by sports experts at 27 newspapers and magazines from across Britain, ten of which failed to include a single woman.
The London Evening Standard, the Independent and Metro were among the newspapers that submitted all-male lists, along with the Daily Star Sunday, the Western Mail, the Daily Post, the Irish News and The People.
Men’s magazines Zoo and Nuts also failed to include any women in their lists – and this morning found themselves a trending topic on Twitter because of it, with many tweeters suggesting they should not have been involved in the first place.
Meanwhile, ten other publications submitted lists featuring only one female nominee.
Following the release of the final shortlist, BBC sports presenter Clare Balding took to Twitter to express her frustration that no women had been included.
Starting the hashtag #womeninsport, Balding blamed a shortage of women’s sports coverage for the lack of female nominees and urged others to express their own dissatisfaction direct to the media.
“If you feel strongly about the all-male SPOTY list, it might be worth making the point to the sports editor of the paper you read, the radio station you listen to, the TV stations you watch that their coverage of female sport is very, very limited in non-Olympic years,” tweeted Balding.
“Otherwise, the world will stay exactly the same. If you want more coverage of female sport, SAY SO. That way, those who care can turn a rather desperate situation into something better in the long term.”
Among the women nominated by the participating publications who did not make the final shortlist were swimmers Rebecca Adlington and Keri-Anne Payne, triathlete and female World Iron Man competitor Chrissie Wellington, Paralympian Stef Reid, jockey Hayley Turner, cyclist Victoria Pendleton, rower Kath Grainger, tae kwon do athlete Sarah Stevenson, boxer Nicola Adams, 1,500m runner Hannah England and BMX rider Shanaze Reade.
The last woman to win the title was three-day eventer Zara Phillips in 2006. A female sportsperson has finished in the top three positions in the past three years, with swimmer Rebecca Adlington finishing third in 2008 and athletics star Jessica Ennis also achieving third place in both the 2009 and 2010 contests.
The 2011 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award is televised live on BBC1 on Thursday 22 December. Voting by the public takes place during the show.