SPOTY fans brand award a 'sham' after Mary Earps wins public vote

SPOTY fans brand award a ‘sham’ after Mary Earps wins public vote as critics claim achievements of Stuart Broad, Frankie Dettori and Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘far outweigh’ the Lioness’ because she has not won a trophy

Audiences have branded the BBC’s Sport Personality of the Year award a ‘sham’ after Mary Earps won the public vote ahead of a host of champions in other fields.

Fans of the award show claimed that the achievements of other nominees including Stuart Broad, Frankie Dettori, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Katarina Johnson-Thompson ‘far outweigh’ those of the England Lioness’ goalkeeper.

Some viewers hit out on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying that the vote was a ‘sham’ and that Earps’ victory was ‘undeserved’, while others celebrated it as a ‘great moment for women’s sport’. 

The ‘Queen of Stops’ was crowned the winner in a public vote, with England cricketer Broad, who helped secure a draw with Australia in this year’s Ashes series, coming in second, while heptathlete Johnson-Thompson, who triumphed at the World Championships in Budapest, came in third.

Other stars have enjoyed strong years too, with O’Sullivan winning his eighth UK Championship snooker title, and jockey Dettori triumphing in a host of races including two Classics – the 2000 Guineas on Chaldean and the Oaks on Soul Sister.

Audiences have branded the BBC ‘s Sport Personality of the Year award a ‘sham’ after Mary Earps won the public vote ahead of a host of champions in other fields

England cricketer Stuart Broad, who helped secure a draw with Australia in this year’s Ashes series, came second

Ronnie O’Sullivan won a record-extending eighth UK Championship snooker title earlier this year

Earps, 30, who had been the overwhelming favourite to scoop the annual gong in Salford, became the second women’s footballer in a row to win after England teammate Beth Mead claimed the crown last year.

READ MORE: From helping her dad in telesales to BBC SPOTY…the rise of Mary Earps

But while she played an influential role in helping the Lionesses reach the final of the Women’s World Cup for the first time, some felt the lack of a tangible trophy meant she was a less worthy winner than some of her other nominees. 

One viewer wrote: ‘I had no problem with the winner last year. Broad and Frankie this year for personality and achievement far outweigh Mary Earps surely?’

Another queried: ‘Can I ask why Mary Earps has won SPOTY? What’s she done apart from save a pen in a major competition????? BBC snobbery means deserved winners like Ronnie O’ Sullivan never get a look in.’

Another said: ‘Got nothing against Mary Earps or her playing football, but she won absolutely no trophies in the last year, KJT won heptathlon, Ronnie O’Sullivan is eight times snooker champ and never won this – SPOTY is a sham now.’

Broadcaster Piers Morgan also weighed in on the debate, as he wrote: ‘Trying to get my head around two of England’s women footballers winning BBC SPOTY in successive years… while male sporting superstars with great personalities like Rory McIlroy, Frankie Dettori & Ronnie O’Sullivan have never won it’.

However, many other fans jumped to the defence of Earps, whose achievements this year have spanned beyond the pitch, having won plaudits for speaking out about sportswear manufacturer Nike’s failure to offer an England goalkeeper’s replica jersey for sale before the World Cup.

One wrote: ‘Such a great moment for women’s sport. Mary Earps is such a talented footballer and an inspiration to so many young girls. She’s also a hero to us older girls who didn’t get the chance. Thank goodness things have changed. Sport brings the world together.’

READ MORE: Sports Personality of the Year winner Mary Earps revels in ‘the ultimate all-round sporting accolade’

Another said: ‘Seeing a fair few posts about the wonderful Mary Earps’ win at the SPOTY last night. Am I being a pedant by saying its not Sports big winner of the year, but personality of the year. That lass was a huge personality with this being reflected in the mad rush for her goalkeeper tops.’

A third added: ‘Mary Earps was on the pitch for every single second of the Lionesses campaign… I’m not a great ladies football fan, but even I can see that Earps is an excellent, and much needed role model for 2023. A well deserved win.’   

Following her victory, Earps hailed the part played by her England and Manchester United team-mates.

The 30-year-old goalkeeper was a key part of the Lionesses side which reached the Women’s World Cup final in the summer and won FIFA’s Golden Glove award for the best goalkeeper at the tournament.

Earps won FIFA’s Golden Glove award for the best goalkeeper at this year’s World Cup and memorably saved a penalty from Spain’s Jenni Hermoso in the final.

But the Lionesses were unable to add to their 2022 European crown as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat in Sydney.

At club level she kept 14 clean sheets as United finished second in the Women’s Super League, and she hailed the part her team-mates had played in her achieving this individual accolade.

‘I would not be here without my team-mates with the Lionesses and at Manchester United because we’ve achieved some incredible things over the last couple of years,’ she said.

Her foul-mouthed Women’s World Cup moment became famous with fans after Earps reacted to saving a penalty during the Lionesses’ 1-0 final defeat to Spain in Sydney earlier this year

Earps celebrated confirmation her shirt would go on sale with her one million TikTok followers

At club level, Earps kept a WSL record 14 clean sheets for Man United in the 2022-23 season

Mary Earps, pictured as a child, began playing football aged eight with her brother and father

‘While individual accolades are great, they only come after team success. This is their trophy just as much as mine.

‘(Winning the award) feels pretty great on the back of a couple of big years – 2023 has been wild in ways I never expected, I am really grateful,’ she said.

Her international career appeared at a crossroads in 2021 and she acknowledged during the BBC show she felt she had ‘lost purpose’ after losing her place in the England team.

Sarina Wiegman recalled her in the first England squad she named in September of that year after Earps had been out in the cold since November 2019.

‘I always committed to myself that anything I would have after that period of time (out of the England team) would be a bonus and it just hasn’t stopped yet,’ Earps said.

‘I’m just trying to make the most of everything, because when it stops, you miss it.’

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