Having a Laugh? Not For These Pundits As Discrimination in Football Arises Again

The biggest story in the UK media over the past week has been the saga over sexism in football.

In an era of female heads of state, male fashion designers and everyone having the right to vote, two football pundits, in a discussion about a female linesperson, have thrown themselves into the media spotlight.

The incident took place on Saturday, Jan. 22, in a 12:45 match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool. A lot was made of Kenny Dalglish, the newly appointed Liverpool manager, on whether he could turn the club around from a poor start to the season under former manager Roy Hodgson.

However, this discussion was cast aside when, the following day, after Liverpool had won 3-0, the two pundits, Richard Keys, a Sky Sports veteran of 20 years presenting, and Andy Gray, a former Scotland international, and Sky Sports regular, had a recorded conversation during the match about lineswoman Sian Massey.

The incident they were discussing surrounded Liverpool’s first goal, scored by Spaniard Fernando Torres, when a through ball from Portuguese midfielder Raul Merieles was not flagged for offside by Massey. Keys and Gray were caught saying the following conversation:

Keys: ‘Someone better go down there and explain the offside rule to her.’

Gray: ‘Can you believe that? A female lino. Women don’t know the offside rule.’

Keys: ‘The game’s gone mad. Did you hear the charming Karen Brady this morning complaining about sexism in football? Yeah, do me a favour, love.’

Karen Brady, star of The Apprentice, former managing director of Birmingham City and current vice-chairperson of West Ham United, had only that morning written about the state of the game including sexism in football, said her point was proven by Gray’s and Keys’ rant.

Since this conversation became apparent, another video has surfaced on YouTube where pundit Gray can be seen asking for help from female presenter Charlotte Jackson to tuck his shirt in and pointing at his crotch area. Jackson ignores these comments and turns away, leading to Gray and Keys laughing behind her.

Yet another video has surfaced from Sky News on the morning of the match in question, when reports Vinny O’Connor is seen speaking with Gray about the match. When a production crew member asks what Gray makes of Massey being an official for the match, Gray replies:

‘No, I can see her from here. It’s Saturday; she should be cleaning a house or something.’

Following this evidence, Andy Gray was sacked from his £1.7 million a year contract at Sky Sports on Tuesday and, just 48 hours later, Richard Keys resigned, despite making a public and personal apology on radio station TalkSPORT and to Ms Massey.

Ms. Massey, who is a PE teacher from Coventry, was supposed to return to officiating on Tuesday night in a League 2 match between Crewe and Bradford, but she was pulled by the Football Assocation (FA). So far, she has not commented on the story.

TAGS: , Media, Soccer