The Women’s Sports Foundation has slammed the “appalling” media coverage of female sport in Britain, something that will resonate with UK fans of Nicole Cooke, the all-conquering cyclist who gets precious few mentions in the mainstream press, despite her success.

Nicole who?

A damning new report released today by the Women’s Sports Foundation has revealed the massive disparity between the media’s coverage of men’s and women’s sport in Britain.

Reflecting just how poorly the UK’s top female sportspeople are treated by the media, the charity says a mere 5 percent of sports coverage is given over to women, despite new figures which show almost nine out of 10 people feel it is important to see more about Britain’s successful sportswomen in the press.

When questioned in more detail, almost two-thirds of the people responding to the new WSF survey said they would welcome more women’s sport on TV.

With the backing of a whole range of top female athletes, politicians and media personnel, the Foundation’s new report – Britain’s best kept secrets – warns of a "significant risk" that the wide gap that already exists between men’s and women’s sports participation and success will never be closed if the inequality of sports reporting continues.

Deborah Potts, Women’s Sports Foundation chief executive said:

“It’s crucial that the media acknowledges and celebrates the wealth of talent that already exists in Britain as without their support the role models the next generation will attempt to emulate will just not shine through. It appears the British public are firmly behind us on this as only one in ten dispute the fact that more coverage of women’s sport would help develop more women champions for Britain and encourage girls to play more sport.”

Whilst the Foundation admits that its research has shown there are occasional examples where men and women tend to be recognised equally based on the merit of their performances – athletics being a case in point – this is clearly not the case across the board.

As a result, it’s no surprise that when asked to name three current British sportswomen, some two thirds of respondents failed miserably. Only world record holder Paula Radcliffe was consistently mentioned, with 22 percent of respondents able to give her name unprompted.

The issues raised by the new report are to be debated at an event being held today at The Oval cricket ground under the banner of the Foundation’s new ‘Campaign for Coverage’. Delegates from the world of sport, politics, and the media, including Olympic swimming medallist Karen Pickering, England women’s cricket captain Clare Connor, Daily Telegraph journalist Sue Mott and presenters Eleanor Oldroyd and Clare Tomlinson will be present to share their own personal experiences, unpick the survey’s findings and, crucially, attempt to lay the foundations for the future of women’s sports coverage.

The new findings have been timed to coincide with the Foundation formally re-launching, almost 20 years after it was first founded. A new website is available from today, together with a new logo and a fresh focus on galvanising grass roots support for the organisation’s aims.

The website has a section on how the public an influence media coverage. The third of three example questions was:

"Why did I not hear about Nicole Cooke’s world championship race on Sky Sports News?"

The WSF’s 16-page report can be downloaded as a PDF from:…/wsf-research-report-media.pdf…/get_into_media.php

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