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Sky Sports presenters question if a female referee knew the offside rule
Sky Sports presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys are at the centre of a sexism row after they questioned whether a female assistant referee knew the offside rule during a Premier League match.
The commentators, who apparently believed their microphones were switched off, were recorded making disparaging remarks about Sian Massey, 25, before Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Wolves on Saturday.
What they said…
KEYS: Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.
GRAY: Can you believe that? Women don’t know the offside rule.
KEYS: ‘Course they don’t.
GRAY: Why is there a female linesman? Somebody’s ****ed up big.
KEYS: I guarantee there will be a big one today. Kenny (Dalglish) will go potty. This is not the first time. Didn’t we have one before? Wendy Toms?
GRAY: She was ****ing hopeless as well.
Keys also went on to remark on comments made by West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady in The Sun on Saturday morning about the level of sexism in football by saying: “See charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Yeah. Do me a favour, love.”
The comments were labelled ‘appalling’ and ‘medieval’ by Football Against Racism in Europe, a group who work with UEFA to wipe out all discrimination in football.
Executive director Piara Powar, who this week organised a conference in Amsterdam which vowed to increase the number of women in the game, said:
‘Their comments reveal the appalling and damaging sexist attitudes that exist across football.
‘It is unacceptable that two of British football’s biggest names are heard espousing views, whether intended for broadcast or not, that undermine and disparage the efforts of women in the game.
‘In an era when women’s and girls’ football is the biggest growing sport in the UK, their comments are medieval in tone, unacceptable and should lead to immediate action from BSkyB.’
Brady has now revealed that the off-air remarks about both herself and Massey made her ‘blood boil’.
Brady told BBC 5live: ‘It makes my blood boil, if I’m absolutely honest. What really upsets me is the fact only females in our industry are judged by their gender. And that is categorically wrong.
‘I’m genuinely disappointed. It never would have occurred to me that they had those views, whether public or private.
‘It almost makes it worse that they’re speaking when the microphones are not on as opposed to when they are on, because (they have) never really had the brass neck to say it publicly, they would only say it privately. I have heard it and I don’t believe it is just banter.’
On Sunday night a Sky Sports spokesperson said: ‘The comments reported today are not acceptable. They were not made on air or broadcast in any way but we have spoken to Richard and Andy and told them our views. They have apologised and expressed their regret.’
A leading pressure group last night called for action to be taken against them while England captain Rio Ferdinand also publicly backed Massey.
The FA defended the progress of women in the professional game. They released a statement that read: “The FA has made real strides in encouraging both male and female match officials to enter the game at every level, and will continue to offer every encouragement to all officials within the football family to progress to the highest levels possible.
“We are proud to have some of the world’s best match officials, both male and female.
“Overall the number of female referees in England (Levels 1-8) stands at 853 and climbing, and all of our female match officials act as fantastic ambassadors for the game. They have our wholehearted and continuing support.”
Sportsister’s Co-Founder Danielle Sellwood says “In a way they have done us a favour – by being caught they have brought this serious issue to the public’s attention. The world is changing and women in sport are here to stay, it’s time for the old guard to move over. I am sure Sky, who are broadcasting some great women’s sport at the moment will agree ”
Kim Mogg, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine