'A very high-quality assessment – for a woman.' Czech football pundit's remark sparks debate

Workplace sexism is still common in Czechia, especially in technical and other male-dominated industries.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 28.11.2022 14:53:00 (updated on 28.11.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

A Česká televize (ČT) commentator’s remark that the observations of a female football fan were “a very high-quality assessment for a woman” has sparked debate about the inclusiveness and equality of Czechia’s national television broadcaster.

Following a televised World Cup match between Switzerland and Cameroon, well-known and experienced ČT pundit Pavel Čapek responded rashly to the football analysis of a female spectator who called in to give her opinion on the match.

Deník N contacted Chief Commentator of ČT sports programs, Robert Záruba, to discuss the issue and whether women are adequately represented in the organization’s editorial office.

An apology that added fuel to the fire

Záruba was quick to apologize on Twitter, although his apology was the three-word message of "Wrong sentence. Sorry." While acknowledging that the wording was "unfortunate," Záruba added that it was “not meant offensively or disrespectfully,” defending Čapek and refusing to publicly criticize him.

He also remarked that upon joining the CT sports department there “was not a single woman,” whereas today there are six in the editorial office.

A former presenter of ČT, Linda Bartošová, noted that the video underlined the “endless chauvinism and paternalism” of Czechia. However, another ČT ex-commentator, Svetlana Witowska, disagreed. She noted that she had personally met Čapek, who "did not mean [his comment] in a bad way, but rather as recognition for a female viewer who had a good comment on a predominantly male sport.”

Poor treatment of women still common in Czech workplaces

Women currently face some underrepresentation in Czech workplaces: a recent Deloitte study found, for example, that just 17 percent of workplace management positions were occupied by women – lower than the EU average of 31 percent, as reported in Deník.cz.

A separate survey from 2019 also found that sexism in the workplace was experienced by “half of women” in technical, traditionally male-dominated industries. Over 30 percent of females in the same survey reported hearing purposefully condescending questions such as “Am I being too technical for you?” and 66 percent of women reported hearing the phrase “That’s not bad for a girl!.”

Čapek’s comments – even if an innocuous slip-up – has sparked debate about, and more recognition of, the mistreatment of women in the workplace.

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