Nicola Sturgeon has praised a sports broadcaster who walked out of an awards ceremony in protest at “unacceptable” comments in a speech.

Eilidh Barbour left the Scottish Football Writers’ Awards (SFWA) part way through the speech, and later said remarks by the after-dinner speaker Bill Copeland were “degrading” to women.

She also said the speech included “homophobic jibes” and that “offensive racial terms should never be funny”.

Barbour said on Twitter that she had “never felt so unwelcome in the industry I work in than sitting at the Scottish Football Writers Awards”.

The event, she added, was “a huge reminder there is still so much to do in making our game an equal place”.

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The SFWA later apologised to anyone who was “offended or upset by material from one of our after-dinner speakers” – with the organisation pledging the walkout would be a “catalyst to review and improve the format of our future events”.

Raising the issue at Holyrood during First Minster’s Questions, SNP MSP Joe FitzPatrick – a former sports minister in the Scottish Government – said the event appeared to “be a shocking illustration of the outdated discriminatory attitudes that still exist in football and indeed in journalism that need to be eradicated”.

In response, Sturgeon agreed that what had been said was “unacceptable”, as she stressed the need for men to change their behaviour.

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The First Minister paid tribute to Barbour and others at the event “who I think very courageously took a stand and spoke out”.

She added: “It’s not easy for any woman, particularly in a traditionally man’s world, to speak out in that way and I think Eilidh and her colleagues deserve credit for doing so.”

The speech showed “sexism and misogyny still runs too deep in our society and it is a reminder that it must be tackled”, Ms Sturgeon added.

“It is also a reminder that it starts with male behaviour and its male behaviour we must see change.”