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Will football take its chance to change?

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David Bond | 19:25 UK time, Thursday, 27 January 2011

Now that the storm surrounding 'Linogate' has died down, there is an opportunity to perhaps reflect on what the whole episode tells us about football's attitudes towards women in 2011.

The comments and behaviour of the sacked Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who has also left his role with Sky Sports, have been rightly condemned by fans, equality groups, the football authorities and the media.

And it is interesting to note once again the sport's power to shine a light on issues which go far beyond the confines of the pitch.

But do they simply reflect the outdated views of a boys club which exist away from prying eyes, behind the closed doors of dressing rooms and boardrooms and off air in television and radio studios?

A new report on equality in European football commissioned for Uefa by Dr Steven Bradbury of Loughborough University certainly suggests that is the case. Dr Bradbury found that there is "overt and casual sexism" embedded in the game and that women's abilities are "devalued and invalidated".

That Sian Massey is an assistant referee in the Premier League at all is clear evidence of progress but while there are now 853 female referees registered with the Football Associatio (compared to 26,000 men) few apart from pioneer Wendy Toms and Massey have broken through to the top level.

And while there are more junior and middle ranking officials and administrators working at clubs, only five women have made it through to board level in the last five years - Brenda Spencer at Wigan, Delia Smith at Norwich, Heather Rabatts at Millwall, Karren Brady at Birmingham and now West Ham and Lorraine Rogers at Tranmere. Today only the last two are still involved.

Assistant referee Sian Massey

Massey has reached Premier League level as an assistant referee this season

Similarly there are only two women on the 102 strong FA council - football's parliament - but there are none at full board level, something that may change if new chairman David Bernstein delivers on his pledge to bring much needed reform.

Uncovering attitudes inside the dressing room is virtually impossible but Robbie Savage said in an interview earlier this week players did not judge women officials on their gender but on whether they were any good or not.

Having said that a dressing room full of young men is unlikely to be the best place to find enlightened comment on the opposite sex.

But is that exclusive to football? Anyone who has been in a rugby or cricket dressing room at any level would probably find evidence of sexism on differing scales. In that sense is football all that different?

Research by the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation suggests the picture might be improving. It found that in 2010 there were 11 female chief executives of national sport governing bodies, or 23%. This equates to an increase of 8% from 2009.

Similarly there was an increase in the number of key executives on boards and committees across sport - up to 25% from 21%.

Compare those statistics to the number of women who hold top board jobs in Britain's leading companies.

The trend might be going up but research by the Cranfield School of Management found only 12.5% of directors in FTSE 100 companies were occupied by women (135 female directors out of 1,076). In pay terms too, women lag way behind men - by 23% according to the 2010 management national salary survey.

But how realistic is it for women to ever attain true equality in a sport like football when it is divided on gender lines at the very highest level of competition?

In April a new Women's Premier league will be launched but no-one expects it will ever come to compete commercially with the highest levels of the men's game.

And nor do they want it to. The women's game is different and that should be celebrated in its own right.

But is there simply a ceiling to female ambitions which will never be broken through? Equality campaigners I have spoken to concede this but argue football has not even started to scale the heights.

Of course, they admit, there are natural limits where the physical differences are so great and the level of experience so contrasting. But why can't there by more women referees, administrators, broadcasters and journalists in the game?

And perhaps the true measure of equality will only come when a woman is the manager of a Premier League club or the England team.

Can a woman who has not played the men's game at the very top level really tell a team of men how to play or is that irrelevant as long as she is a master of tactics and has all her coaching badges?

Perhaps the Football Association should seize the moment and add the highly regarded Hope Powell, manager of the England women's team, to Fabio Capello's coaching staff. That really would send a message that football has moved on from the sorts of attitudes displayed by Keys and Gray.

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Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    It's all well and good rooting out sexism, but soccer AM will still have it's Soccerette feature at the weekend.

  • Comment number 2.

    What a ridiculous politically lead over reaction this has been. Xenophobia is prevailant throughout English football and the media, yet nothing is said about that!

  • Comment number 3.

    ridiculous over reaction! we all made the same joke when we heard there's a female lines...assistant referee, it's called banter. get over it!

  • Comment number 4.

    Yes, Tezzerwolf, Soccer AM will have their soccerette but the difference is nobody on the set - least of all the girl herself - appears to mind.
    Andy Gray and Richard Keys had to go because those working alongside them in the production team found them obnoxious.

  • Comment number 5.

    Seriously is this still going on?

    Andy Gray awful commentator and almost inaudible sometimes, not a fan of his comments or him, general racism and sexism has no place anywhere in todays society but yawn!!!!!

    This reminds me of the witch hunt with Ross and Brand.....ok we know all about it so please lets find something else to whine about.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Has anyone seen Loose Women on ITV? If that isn't sexism then I don't know what is!
    Seriously, this is all well over the top. Yet again another example of political correctness gone mad. It's men talking about men playing a sport. If you don't like the comments then don't watch or listen.
    Yet again society is trying to keep everyone happy...and by everyone, I mean the minority.

  • Comment number 9.

    "Having said that a dressing room full of young men is unlikely to be the best place to find enlightened comment on the opposite sex."

    That statement in itself is far from enlightened. Perhaps we should emphasise the "old" in talking about football being an old boys club. As a young man myself around the same age of many younger premier league footballers I find that whilst sexism is still an issue in my generation it is nowhere near as prevalent as it is with men over the age of 40, certainly less so than with the baby boomer generation.
    Lets not forget that Gray and Keys are both members of that generation and are showing outdated attitudes that will disappear as time moves on. Hopefully though we can eradicate such prejudices without having to wait for Old Father Time to do it for us.

  • Comment number 10.

    Women are capable of doing everything in the mens game except playing, and even then are only prevented by reasons of physicality. The fact there has even been debate about whether Gray and Keys should have been sacked annoys me...sexism is as bad as racism and yet one can be seen as harmless banter but the other abhorrent..



    http://tellhimhespele.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Why is the Sunderland player touching Massey up?

    This certainly didn't get the same coverage as Keys/Gray!

    -----------------------------

    Thats because she is smiling!

    On a more serious note, the whole issue has been massively overblown, Yes, they were stupid to say what they did, but for Andy Gray to be pilloried in the Sun for outdated attitudes towards women, with a page 3 girl smiling alongside, is media hypocrisy of the worst kind.

  • Comment number 13.

    @6: Well, quite. Not the cleverest choice of photo for this blog, was it? Quite cheeky, but, then, perhaps the BBC has its own problems with this kind of sexism. Or, perhaps it's just ironic in that media-savvy postmodern way we've all come to know and love. Or, maybe it's just an honest mistake.

    But, I think we should be told - if only to sort out the confusion in my head... :(

  • Comment number 14.

    Also, I work with a large number of women, and most of them are quite happy to admit that they dont know the offside rule. The ones that do accept that they are in the minority. The statement wasnt actually controversial so much as crass. Its not as if they went on a rant suggesting that women should stay in the kitchen, or similar.

  • Comment number 15.

    It is very interesting that the media is full of condemnation for Keys and Gray but the vast majority of the comments here, so far, imply that the sacking was an unnecessarily strong reaction. I agree. It was a bit of banter and they should have been suspended for a while to show that it is not supported but to destroy careers seems extremely harsh. This is nowhere near the level of nastiness that Ross and Brand showed.

  • Comment number 16.

    Men and women can play the same sports but people have to appreciate the sport in its own context.

    Women's cricket / football and tennis all have their own positive attributes and skills. Strength & power levels will always differ but subtlety and technique can flourish.

    Sports officials can earn their place on merit based upon assessment, something joe public are not privy to. But there will always be banter otherwise this world would be a terribly dull place.

  • Comment number 17.

    Media coverage of this has been so skewed because journalists are all afraid to face the same kind of heat as Gray and Keys. I thought Sachsgate was an overreaction - this is starting to top it.

    Ridiculous from start to finish.

  • Comment number 18.

    banter-massively overused word, generally said by morons.

  • Comment number 19.

    This whole situation has been blown way out of proportion. Obviously very, very few people would actually genuinely agree with the comments made by Keys and Gray (I very much doubt they do themselves, as they were clearly just having a laugh) but there are so many other examples out there.

    Many people have pointed out that Loose Women is far, far worse for sexism than the Keys/Gray debacle, but nobody cares. That show clearly is only in jest too, but that is actually accepted as such- just like this should've been.

    A poster on another messageboard earlier made an interesting point about the situation. He said he was speaking about it with his 13-year-old son, and the son couldn't understand the fuss about it, and said: "But he was only joking, wasn't he?"

    And on another note, I think the BBC have played a big part in escalating/exaggerating this, as they have seen it as an opportunity to get one over on Sky, and to take the moral high ground...

  • Comment number 20.

    Nothing like a good old fashioned witch hunt though the media!

    Yes it was a step over the line of banter, but they are both not working for sky now, Job done and dusted.

    But its not, it gets dragged on more and more, then people jump on the bandwagon and start complaining about things they heard on the news 2 days later and then in the end you start to get to the point of 'I dont really care' so no I dont think it will change a thing.

    P.S. Karren Brady dont need much of an excuse to get in front of a camera does she? You would have thought she learned he lesson after costing West Ham a new manager!

  • Comment number 21.

    If you want to kick sexism out of football, you have to kick men out of football.


  • Comment number 22.

    No surprise to see the PC brigade jumping all over this one. Two arrogant old men in the sporting media make inappropriate comments and all of a sudden this means that the whole sporting world (and even the FTSE 100) is put under the microscope as regards to perceived sexism.

    The facts about the lack of women at various levels throughout football are just not balanced at all. What percentage of women compared to men are even interested in these positions, let alone applying for them? How many years relevant experience do they have that would warrant more positions on the FA Council? If female candidates with appropriate skill sets and experience are being unfairly turned down for these positions then of course that is completely unacceptable and must be dealt with severely. However I have yet to read evidence of this.

    Similarly, Hope Powell should be judged on merit alone and not just added to Capello's team to 'send a message'. The only message this sends if she is not the best candidate is that change is being made for the sake of political correctness alone and not for the benefit of the sport.

  • Comment number 23.

    If Sian Massey is the best person for the job then absolutely no problem at all in my book.
    However I worry about the F.A. and the kind of people that run our game. What happens if Sian Massey was positively promoted because she is a woman? It is just the kind of thing the F.A would do trying to prove that Football is a unisex game. Every referee linesman/women should be there on merit only.
    I also suspect that getting promoted as a match official in this country is a case of who you know rather than what you know.
    It's ridiculous now - on my recent referee's course all but two trainees were under the age of 18. Why are we encouraging people to become referee's when we should be encouraging them to play the game - he best way of accessing Football. No wonder young refs get grief. They don't know the game in their teens. It's hard for older players to automatically respect them.



  • Comment number 24.

    I don't understand the obsession with the offside rule being the mark of whether a women does or doesn't understand football. The offside rule is incredibly complex and I expect there are a lot of men who don't even know the intricacies of the offside rule themselves. Women are discriminated against all the time in the world of football, and it is unacceptable in the 21st century. Every time I engage in a conversation about football with a man I am immediately judged. Men feel they have to test my knowledge of football, but mostly they just dismiss everything I say, simply on the basis that I am a woman. I can understand why a lot of people are saying that the Gray/Keys saga is all just banter, but it was unprofessional to say things like that whilst at work. Behind closed doors, fine, but because of the nature of their job, the fact they are on the television every week, they have a responsibility not to make comments like that on set.

  • Comment number 25.

    The only reason "Linogate" is even a word is because of the media, no real sports fans care! As an offical in the premiership she should expect banter all of her male coleagues get it. How many times have you heard the referee's a W%$£ER etc, get over it! To an extent i feel sorry for Gray and Keys, come on be honest didn't every single man in the country in their local think exactly the same thing?! More Political Correctness... dont get me started!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    As has already been pointed out, the 'Soccerette', the Page 3 lovely with her breasts painted as footballs and 'Loose Women' are all examples of Womankind's own contribution to keeping sexism alive and well. It may seem unfair to a woman who has spent her whole life striving to be judged on her merits but as long as others wear short skirts to their driving tests women will always be seen as inferior by some men.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ever been the only male in a room full of females? Talk about sexism.
    Oh, I forgot, sexism is a one-way street isn't it?
    By the way, isn't the term "witch hunt" sexist?
    But then again, these days, what isn't?
    There's probably less "sexism" in the world today than there has ever been (read your history ladies and gents) but it's never quite enough, is it?
    By the way, all this enforced 'gender neutrality', didn't they try something like this in China? The Cultural Revolution I think they called it. It ended badly if memory serves. Men and women are different, always have been and hopefully always will.
    They'll be telling us what we can think next!

  • Comment number 28.

    I am so glad to see the back of Gray and Keys they were awful.I am living in the USA and they were both over here for the World Cup on Fox Soccer channel and for me you could see the fear on the faces Chris Sullivan EX MLS Player and Warren Barton Ex Newcastle if they said anything that Gray did not agree with,,, Bullies good Riddance
    Martin

  • Comment number 29.

    Women will not have equality in what is essentially seen as a mens game (not in my lifetime anyway) for the simple fact that not as many women enjoy the game as men. In my opinion, if someone a la Sian Massey is capable of doing the job, then who cares, good luck to her, but she will for a long long time be one of the few, simply because football has been and always will be a male dominated sport.

    PS - This is not me being sexist, just telling it how it is!

  • Comment number 30.

    Interesting to see PC getting a lot of stick despite the fact that the Sun and the Mail, both right wing and un PC have hardly been supporting Gray and Keys. And remember that Gray was not fired for this incident, but for a string of them. It seems like his behaviour had been consistently bad but ignored and once this incident went public there were plenty more to follow. There seems to be a noticeable lack of friends and colleagues rushing forward to defend them.

    Of course the tabloids have, with their usual hypocrisy and lack of irony simultaneously rushed to illustrate the story with miss Massey in a short skirt. I just hope the spiralling media storm doesn't hurt her.

  • Comment number 31.

    banter, joking, etc... there are no standards. What is acceptable to YOU may not be to OTHERS.

    If you are not prepared to accept the consequences of your banter/jokes then don't dish out.

    Stop hiding behind "banter" and accept what your true intent is behind your actions: Intimidation and bullying others.

    That's the reason Keys and Gray were called out. Sexist comments were just one of the many avenues that these two use to bully their co-workers.

  • Comment number 32.

    "Perhaps the Football Association should seize the moment and add the highly regarded Hope Powell, manager of the England women's team, to Fabio Capello's coaching staff."

    David

    How patronising, condescending and insulting can you be? Let's give a job to a woman just because she's a woman. If Hope Powell is the best candidate for a job, then give her the job. But don't do it just because of her gender. That is sexist and so are you!

  • Comment number 33.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1351061/Ex-Playboy-model-Izabela-Lukomska-Pyzalska-vows-tough-new-role-chairman-Polish-strugglers-Warta-Poznan.html
    here you go mr. bond. your own female chairman. i wonder why she was elected.nothing to do with playboy of course.
    this is half the problem. can this be taken seriously? women should be appointed on merit.

  • Comment number 34.

    Watch Loose women - listen to the stuff that comes out of their mouths on LIVE national television.

    Compare and contrast with the comments made OFF AIR by Keys and Gray.

    Come to the conclusion that both are in the same league, say "vive le difference" and move on.

    Must be a few slow news days or something.

  • Comment number 35.


    Why can't people just be honest and say this was a bit of silly, typically immature blokey banter - nothing to be proud of, but nothing that justifies the outcry we have seen.

    Far more obnoxious though have been the articles and blogs now being published by other male journalists, including this one, which are so hypocritical they beggar belief. Why were none of them writing about this a week ago, or a year ago? Because they (and I include myself) are all just as bad...or almost.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think that in terms of gender I'm really more concerned about the gender equality gap in the labour market where women are paid on average around 20% less compared to men for equivalent jobs.

    That for me is simply a far bigger issue, a 'wrong' and more worthy of genuine media frenzy than these sideshow media tittle tattle issues. Because effectively, here we are having a media stooshie about the comments from two middle-aged presenters.

    And these comments were just not the same league as those of Ron Atkinson who used a term I personally find expremely pejorative and objectionable.

    Racism is a bigger and deeper issue as is sectarianism in Scotland.

    Most people I think couldn't care less whether its a women or man an electronic monitor or an alien species who makes decisions or line calls in sport, its all about making the best call as you see it (and hopefully the correct and fair one).

    And I find it slightly worrying that the same media who both portray women and men by resorting to stereotypes all the time who are now engaged in some innane pontificating frenzy about comments on female knowledge about the offiside rule.

    I've never had any views on Andy Gray or Richard Keys but there is something deeply hypocritical about seeing these guys openly labelled as 'sexist' by newpapers who use exactly the same language in their stories, columns and Page 3 pictures. And incidentally, by the same papers owned by their Sky proprietor - who is kidding who here?

  • Comment number 37.

    This is all over hyped rubbish - how is it that these other pieces of footage of Gray being "sexist" have suddenly appeared but at the time no one said a thing until the audio recording was leaked.
    Just another media lead head hunt idealistic view that life is perfect & one small jibe from a man about a woman is the end of the world.Had this been flipped & a woman had said something similar about a man it would never have even seen the light of day.
    There are plenty of worse things to worry about in this country & even football so lets put things in to perspective - good luck to Keys & Gray on their future & shame on Sky for making scapegoats out of them - will they be closing down thier porn channels - I doubt it!!

  • Comment number 38.

    I'll tell you what it tells us. It tells us that there are still spineless idiots who think that overreaction is the only reaction.

    The best thing that could have happened out of this to remove sexism would have been for Massey to come out and say "you know what, it was a joke, nothing more nothing less. A bad joke yes, but still a joke, nothing worse than most of us have repeated a hundred times over. I wasn't particularly offended, I just want to do my job and get on with things.". There, simple, and I'm sure if it was up to her should would have done so.

  • Comment number 39.

    Interesting to see PC getting a lot of stick despite the fact that the Sun and the Mail, both right wing and un PC have hardly been supporting Gray and Keys. And remember that Gray was not fired for this incident, but for a string of them. It seems like his behaviour had been consistently bad but ignored and once this incident went public there were plenty more to follow. There seems to be a noticeable lack of friends and colleagues rushing forward to defend them.
    -----------------
    There's the hypocrasy though. If there were a string of incidents then it should have been dealt with.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    Stop hiding behind "banter" and accept what your true intent is behind your actions: Intimidation and bullying others.
    --------------

    I'd hate to see any comedy show that makes it through your censors based on that juvenile argument.

  • Comment number 42.

    Yes its about time to get the FA 'Respect the Referees Campaign' back on track. In every sense!
    Those pair of football misogynists were rightfully sacked not just for their sexist comments but IMO also their disrepect or selective pontifications against Officials' calls that are not in their 'favours' and in the public interests.

  • Comment number 43.

    "a new Women's Premier league will be launched but no-one expects it will ever come to compete commercially with the highest levels of the men's game.

    And nor do they want it to. The women's game is different and that should be celebrated in its own right."


    Sorry but this kind of drooling condescension gets the nerves in my teeth screeching.

    The women's tennis game is "different" but is extremely popular. Why shouldn't it just, by your values, "be celebrated in its own right"... and dirt poor?

  • Comment number 44.

    Mr Bond - you say

    'Can a woman who has not played the men's game at the very top level really tell a team of men how to play or is that irrelevant as long as she is a master of tactics and has all her coaching badges?'

    Change the 'woman' to 'man' and 'she' to 'he' and I think it would be a more interesting question. Mistakes by refereeing officials occur in practically every game and I guess most are made by blokes who haven't played at the very top level.

    So what are you trying to say?

  • Comment number 45.

    In reality football - English football in particular - is doing better than other industries. That's not a reason to be content or complacent, but the advances should be applauded. That the duo were fired - despite Gray's lawsuit against Sky/Murdoch that I think is the real reason for the way the story broke - is something that would not happen in Spain or Italy, or perhaps even rugby. So let's not focus all on the negatives.

    Many of comments on this and other boards have been hateful... It seems there are many frustrated men who hold no pretense of liking gender equality. Let's contrast that with articles like this, by people who are not threatened about women in power.

  • Comment number 46.

    It's funny, I can't remember ever reading an article on BBC Sports written by a female. What rank sexism, sack the lot etc. etc.

  • Comment number 47.

    The best thing that could happen is this:

    Qualified referee Sian Massey gets to run a Prem game.

    And she is NOT the only woman to understand the offside rule. I've just tried my untutored wife on a couple of doozies & she correctly understood 2nd & 3rd phase & becoming active without any previous study of the subject at all.

    She got both dead right. Which most football fans would NOT have, as they never read the rules of the game.

    Looks like a few neanderthals on here tonight seem to have had a few thousand years of social evolution go right past them, too.

  • Comment number 48.

    Every dreadful decision, about offside or otherwise, that I have seen by a football official has been made by a man. His 'howler' is scrutinised ad infinitum by pundits yet his gender never mentioned. Enough said.

  • Comment number 49.

    Northernsuperspur (9.10pm) works with a lot of women who admit not knowing the off-side rule. Unfortunately a lot of players, coaches, managers and commentators don't realise they don't know it properly or that the linesperson (assisant referee!) is very, very nearly always in a better position to judge it than they are until the video replay. While agreeing that the sexism was stupid I'd like to see a whole more respect for officials of both sexes.

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm a football fan, I'm a male, I'm over 40, and I have discussed this in a pub with other football fans who are male and over 40.
    We all thought the comments were sexist and out-dated, the world moves on.
    When I was a kid and black players started coming into football, there were many racist comments made, and if people complained, others called it banter, would you still call racist comments banter today?
    Though I do agree, some of the media that have made the biggest noises are very hypocritical.

  • Comment number 51.

    Don't you just love the way that word "banter" is used. You can use it to defend any every horrible trait from racism, workplace bullying or even overt sexism. How convenient! A typical bully's trick! Let's move these tired old chauvinists aside and bring in some new blood, someone in touch with a more enlightened world.

    Sadly this episode has revealed more about the hidden places of this "last bastion of male pride" than I really want to see. I thought this rubbish had been sorted out along time ago, but apparently not.

  • Comment number 52.

    I just realized something, Keys and Grey make an off camera comment that while going abit too far but cost them their jobs.

    Sepp Blatter basically tells women to 'look sexy' in the game to improve support and interest and yet still runs world for 10+ years.

    Wheres the justice? ha!

  • Comment number 53.

    I think its sexism against male officials, plenty of whom have waited, experienced and qualified for Prem games for years yet have been put in line behind what is blatant positive discrimination - discrimination in its own right.

    Disgraceful how Gray has been lynch pinned for this. what about the sexism that exists now against men who have to stand by aside from FA principle.

  • Comment number 54.

    "The comments and behaviour of the sacked Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who has also left his role with Sky Sports, have been rightly condemned by fans, equality groups, the football authorities and the media."

    but i do not know many people myself who condemn this. Working in a woman orientated office, there is constant sexist banter on both sides... men and multitasking, women and driving. No one who cares about football can really believe how much of a story this has become and it seems there are other reasons for this being keep in the public eye.

    I am sure they never meant they were literally going to go and teach the lino the offside rule. Unfortunately this is going to delay the lino's career and cause much taunting from any football crowd going forward.

  • Comment number 55.

    It was just a bit of banter, nothing more. You hear it everyday all over the country in pubs, football stadiums, school and work.

    If you want to rid the world of sexism then you will need to rid the world of an entire gender of humans.

    Men ARE physically stronger than women, which is why the pinnacle of football is dominated by men. When a women enters a 99.9% all male sport she is almost guaranteed to receive some verbal abuse. I bet the crowd were shouting all sorts at Sian Massey, what are we going to do about that?

    Football is dominated by men, men run it and men make it entertaining. Get over it.

  • Comment number 56.

    Post 37 has it right. While I have very little sympathy for such self-regarding sexist fools like Gray and Keys, the fact that these comments have come to light changes nothing whatsoever apart from who will be presenting Sky matches in the future. All the millions of people who hold sexist views will continue to hold them, the media will continue adopting double standards and the world will keep on turning.

  • Comment number 57.

    I congratulate the media, especially the BBC, for stretching this 'story' into a fifth day.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    same old story all blown out of proportion true should not have said what they did in open speech kept your thoughts to your self but does that deserve a sacking,

  • Comment number 61.

    "Now that the storm surrounding 'Linogate' has died down, there is an opportunity to perhaps reflect on what the whole episode tells us about football's attitudes towards women in 2011."

    Get a grip...one mans comments means thats tell us everything about footballs fans attitude to women!

    honestly do i pay my license fee for people like you to write nonsense like this?

    what about Wayne Rooneys attitude to women?

    going to spend half an hour blogging about that are you?

    you know most of the people i know who clean your bins, bake your bread, clean your hospitals, post your letters etc would find this funny and they would make a joke of it too but does that make them wicked?

    no its make them decent honest fun loving people.

    sorry to say but you piccy makes you look like the sort of person who simply wants to bring his own vision of boredom onto everyone else.

    whatever you think of andy gray he should have been allowed the dignity of resigning instead of humiliating him and sacking him...that i find abhorrent.

    what sort of people are we turning into that somebody takes a film of someone of camera on their phone and then posts into youtube like a little sneak?

    dear oh dear.

    your blog should be more about how the andy gray incident tells us all about the sneaky, media obsessed, tell tale telling society we now live in.

    and as for karen brady...oh dear...tell me mr. bond what exactly were those magazines her now current employers were selling when they made their fortunes?

    and what sort of people buy those magazines?

    no doubt your moderator (moderator...exactly!) will find some reason to exclude me from your comment site...like the fact i actually make a decent point.



  • Comment number 62.

    Whether or not it was correct to sack Andy Gray for sexist behaviour, which also led to Richard Keys resignation, I for one am glad to see the back of them both. They had both got far too big for their boots; they both thought they were God's gift to football; they were both biaised in their opinions about certain clubs; they did not give a fair crack of the whip to all teams (a criticism I would also make of BBC's Match of the Day presenters on Saturday nights - Sunday's Match of the Day is a much fairer programme). Back to Sky I hope Alan Smith is promoted to no.1 Sky football commentator - he always was far superior to Andy Gray and all other football commentators with the exception of Jonathon Pearce. As for Richard Keys' replacement Sky Sports could do no better than choose Sally Logan (one in the eye for Keys!), if she could be persuaded to join Sky, or Adrian Chiles. Both are superb professionals, fair-minded and intelligent people with good football knowledge.
    From: A Sunderland supporter through and through!

  • Comment number 63.

    Honestly! I understand they are professionals (Andy and Richard) and therefore they have to watch their tongue and Sky Sports had to react. However what they said regarding the offside rule is no different to what any gang of blokes say down the pub. Also they will have no problem saying it when with their wives and their wives will usually just shrug it off.

    Do you really think if you were a fly on a wall in a womens dressing room there would be no seemingly derogatory comments said about men. Also comments that men would just shrug off.

    What Andy and Richard said is just a cliche about women and football that is repeated a million times per day. In their professional capacity they deserved to be reprimanded but certainly not hung, drawn and quartered!

  • Comment number 64.

    @56

    Funny you should say that with your username, did you have sympathy for Marsh i wonder??

  • Comment number 65.

    Post # 50 To compare racism & sexism i think is wrong,to my knowledge there are no groups set up to harass,abuse,attack or make life hell for women unlike BNP or the NF etc.Fair enough racism was more accepted once unlike now but the same can probably be said for sexism but there has been not as much call for change because its not in the same league.
    If a woman had said the same things as Gray or Keys about Sian Massey would it have been brought up? Unlikely,so in the fairness of equality that is so sought after isnt whats good for the goose good for the gander? After all there are probably thousands of male & female football fans slating referees & lines people every weekend regardless of their sex.
    Even as i write this David Dimbleby has made a quip about sexism in his intoduction of Question Time - political corrctness has surely gone mad!

  • Comment number 66.

    No. 35 has it spot on. One of the best comments I have read on here for some time.

    This was a ridiculous storm created by the media, fed off by the media, regurgitated by the media, with the chunks sucked back up again for good measure.

    The whole story could have been condensed into: "slightly boorish middle-aged men say something mildly inappropriate about a woman during private conversation." Nah, let's go for 'LINOGATE'. Muppets.

    A truly embarrassing and degrading spectacle ensued as rival press and broadcasters scrabbled around trying to work out how to squeeze another 10 per cent out of this total non-story, and myriad 'columnists' weighed in with their faux sincerity (Hey everyone, let's 'do' sexism in football - yeah no one's been talking about this for a while, and I've got 600 words to file by tomorrow morning). Unbelievably, the hysteria dust has yet to settle.

    Proof positive (if any were needed) that while only too aware of its brazen hypocrisy, the British media remains totally unwilling to make an honest appraisal of its role in society.

    We deserve better. Where's Charlie Brooker when you need him? He'd have a field day with this one.



  • Comment number 67.

    re 62. At 10:36pm on 27 Jan 2011, czarnykot wrote:

    As for Richard Keys' replacement Sky Sports could do no better than choose Sally Logan (one in the eye for Keys!), if she could be persuaded to join Sky, or Adrian Chiles. Both are superb professionals,

    haha... love it... Sally who? or is it Gabby Logan... the rugby presenter. And for Chiles... take him back to working lunch were he was actually good... not as a football presenter.

    Super Jeff Stelling could be an option but that would ruin Soccer Saturday..

    And JP a good commentator? Just because he uses big words to impress people, he is terrible. Back to Robot Wars on BBC2 please and keep him there

  • Comment number 68.

    it must have been a slow week for journalism. I am over forty, have grown up with 3 sisters and 2 daughters and highly respect them first and foremost as people and secondly as females. This has gotten politically out of control and as far as the blog is concerned the statistics used within bear no resemblance to the overall problem. Many years ago s=commentators made jokes about Scottish goalkeepers and their error prone ways, I am sure none were fired for racism. I hear commentators during WC talking about various nations CLOSE TO THE LINE OF CHEATING tactics and nothing is mentioned about it. I agree with teh post in reference to the demographics of referees in assistants in proportion to men versus woman and agree that is probably the proportion of men to women who are really passionate about the sport and nothing more than that.

  • Comment number 69.

    Post 64 : Actually, I did. While that incident - like this one -was also blown out of all proportion I think Marsh is worth listening to and doesn't think himself to be the the pinnacle of football punditry , which can hardly be said of Gray, a man of huge self--esteem.

  • Comment number 70.

  • Comment number 71.

    Don't want to get anyone off side but would like to flag this Eurythmics advice:


    Now, there was a time,
    when they used to say,
    that behind ev'ry great man,
    there had to be a great woman.
    But oh, in these times of change,
    you know that it's no longer true.
    So we're comin' out of the kitchen,
    'cause there's something we forgot to say to you.
    We say, Sisters are doin' it for themselves

  • Comment number 72.

    The BBC has a nerve going on and on about Sky's sexist commentators. How many articles about women's teams can you see on the BBC Sport front page. Until women have equal access to the media they wont be taken seriously (and wont make enough money to warrant equal access, I know its a vicious circle) However the BBC is a state company so it should be able to afford to devote more page space to women's sports without suffering from lack of revenue. Snooker only became popular in the 1980's because it was televised. We don't see any women's coverage on the BBC. Sian Massey has a right to do her job without being pilloried just because she isn't a man. If she's earned the right to do it, let her get on with it. I work in a so-called man's job and I know just how it feels to be constantly victimised for the sole reason that I wasn't lucky enough to be born a man. Leave her alone and put some more women's sport on the front page. (Team of the year in SPOTY should have been the women's cricket team but were they?).

  • Comment number 73.

    There seem to be quite a few misconceptions in the comments on this page. So let me just clear up a few things.

    1) I think the main problem of the original comments was Keys' exclamation that "the game's gone mad". This is not banter, this is simply offensive no matter how you look at it. If any professional, particularly a supposedly open-minded and objective pundit, shows such disregard for women (there is no reason why a woman should not be a linesperson in the men's game), then clearly you have a problem. Gray's comment of "women don't know the offside rule" doesn't look bad on paper, as it looks like it actually was banter, except when you HEARD the recording you could hear the disgust in his voice.

    2) Gray was not, however, sacked just for this. He was sacked for, in addition to this, commenting on the same day, in front of a rolling camera, that he "definitely wouldn't" in reference to Massey, and also for being sexist to his own colleagues, including making sexual gestures and comments, again whilst being filmed, to a Sky presenter.

    3) Keys was not sacked, he resigned.

    Cheers.

  • Comment number 74.

    Firstly I don't think the behaviour was right, especially the adjusting mike bit with charlotte jackson, that's just cras and for anyone to think in the modern work environment that it's acceptable is niave/stupid, but surely sexism/treating women like objects is rife in football, how many of them cheat on their wifes, how many sexual assault/rape cases have there been. It's an environment that will be ridiculously slow to change

    Sky sports news itself discrimates, I don't believe for a second that they hire their female presenters without taking into account their looks, the Skysports news HD Ad had Georgi Thomson in a red catsuit, yet none of this is sexist, double standards all over

    Along with the obvious Loose women that has been mentioned, There was an advert (for boots I think), just after xmas haven't seen it lately. 2 women stop in the street bunged up with the cold out getting cold stuff and doing all the shopping, picking up the kids etc. They start to talk about where their blokes are, at home with man flu. The whole advert was sexist, against woman as they were doing the school run/shopping and men not being able to do anything with a cold and thats a national advertising campaign.

  • Comment number 75.

    What we need to do is outlaw jokes and live as robots.

    Why did the chicken cross the road jokes - Upsets animal rights activists

    Mother-in-law jokes - Upsets anti-sexists

    English man, Irish man & Scottish man jokes - Upsets anti-racists

    Gay jokes - Upsets anti-homophobics

    Unless you can think of a knock knock joke where there is no man, woman or creature of any kind at the door, then we have to outlaw them too.

    We need outlaw the phrases, typical man and of course, typical woman.

    When there is absolutely nobody having a laugh in the world anymore, then the world would be a much happier place, wouldn't it?

  • Comment number 76.

    Any chance of Sian Massey agreeing to officiate at the rest of the games at The Valley this season?

    The standard of refereeing and assistant refereeing has been truly atrocious this season - from the quality of that offside decision on Saturday, it seems to me she'd be a distinct improvement.

  • Comment number 77.

    Gray and Keys have clearly been stitched up by their own work colleagues, these weren't comments made on air. If every word spoken in the workplace was taped and analysed, then using this criteria no one would have a job.

    The media storm over this is daft, they were male presenters of a male football game, what a surprise that off-air they've said the oldest football joke, that a woman doesn't know the offside rule. So what's next, sacked for saying women are bad drivers, all men are the same, men can't multi task, these are all stereotypes that most people just laugh off and shouldn't take seriously, what a bunch of pc losers.

  • Comment number 78.

    Post 75
    Could not agree more, a sense of humor is not a pre resuisite but surely helps.

  • Comment number 79.

    the more women we have becoming officials in football matches will only increase the sexism on the terraces, we all go crazy when a male ref gets a decision wrong, if a female got it wrong there would be a witch hunt. Just keep it to us males, END OF!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    "Can a woman who has not played the men's game at the very top level really tell a team of men how to play or is that irrelevant as long as she is a master of tactics and has all her coaching badges?"

    This is a ridiculous comment. Name me one EPL referee who has, himself,played in the EPL? While I agree to be a good referee you need to have played at a relatively high level of competition to understand the complexity of the game within the game, but that goes for all referees. To suggest a female referee must play at the "highest" level, i.e. the level she is refereeing is certainly a double standard.

  • Comment number 81.

    If we are going to start talking about righting perceived inequalities in the world of football, what about the proportion of black managers in the professional game? What about the disproportionate numbers of footballers of Asian backgrounds in the leagues? What about the lack of referees from these backgrounds? These are just as important to modern football as the recent sexism issue - whilst the game has done much to reduce overt racism, these disparities have not gone away.

    The treatment of Gray and Keys has shown that sexist behaviour is intolerable to the wider public, much in the same way Ron Atkinson was punished for racist behaviour. But to assume that a week of front page news is going to suddenly change the underlying problems overnight is just naive.

  • Comment number 82.

    Re post 73 You cant comment with "including making sexual gestures and comments, again whilst being filmed, to a Sky presenter."
    in regards to Grays working relationship with the other presenters unless you worked there with them.
    I have worked with women that have made very similar or even more extreme gestures to men in the workplace - it all comes down to how well you know your collegues & where to draw the line with what you can get away with within those relationships.
    If he had walked in to the job on day one & acted like that then fair enough you could say he was being offensive but do we know if the female prsenter found it offensive? Just because other people dont find it the correct way to act doesnt mean it was offensive to the person that it was acted out upon. & Richard Keys resigned because of all the furore surrounding this saga & would probably never lived it down if he'd have stayed on.

  • Comment number 83.

    There is more than a whiff of self contradiction and hypocrisy from many who, until a couple of days ago, shared the same views as the self confessed "dinosaurs" of Sky Sports.

  • Comment number 84.

    Aren't the execs at sky to blame for creating en environment where this was tolerated? Clearly Grey and Keys are serial offenders and nothing was done to curb their behaviour.

  • Comment number 85.

    #81.... Look at the (some past) managers who are black.... Alexander, Barnes, Tigana, Ince, Kamara, Lyttle etc. Now say, hand on heart, that you'd want any of them (apart from the late Keith Alexander who did a great job in lower leagues) to manage your club? Personally I don't care if they are white, black, Hispanic, Asian or Purple with Green stripes as long as they are good at their job.

    Should there be more black managers? Probably. Would I like a black manager at my club? Yes, why not? Would I want Paul Ince to be boss of my club? No, because he is a poor manager and would be equally bad if he was white.

  • Comment number 86.

    #79 What utter rubbish. Female refs would be reviled no more no less than a male referee. And the composition of the Terraces are changing and the (ever increasing) 30% which comprises the female component of supporters would be just as abusive to a female ref, probably worse. Everyone hates the referee be they male or female, it goes with the territory.

    I support the inclusion of female referees if they are good at their job. Just as I'd like to see some of the male hacks out there removed from the game they obviously don't understand.

  • Comment number 87.

    what a joke i dont like andy grey or the other fellow but why o why do woman want to get into a MANS game why dont you ref your own womans football im sure they need good lineswoman and refs why dont woman stick to there game and men stick to theres that way no one gets upset

  • Comment number 88.

    Mass hysteria over a cliché - LOL

  • Comment number 89.

    What I don't understand is why the media are bandying around stats like there are only x amount of women at xyz levels of the sport. Should we be trying to even it up just for the sake of equality? We shouldn't have the attitude that "It's 2011, quick lets make sure half the Premier League managers by 2020 are women." By and large people who are involved in the sport are people who are interested in the sport. The fact that there are less women than men has nothing to do with sexism. It has everything to with the fact that the majority of women aren't interested in the sport. There is nothing wrong with that. We shouldn't try to be putting women in footballing roles just for the sake of it. That's not in the spirit of equality.

    It's like the landmark affirmative action case in the U.S where a white man sued a university for losing out on a job to a lesser qualified african american.

    This whole sky sports/women in football has the same ring to it.

    Affirmative action was supposed to be equality of opportunity. Meaning everyone gets a fair go regardless of their race. What it turned into was equality of result, with companies being legally required to have non-whites in the books whether they were qualified or not. That is what the BBC is suggesting with this article, that women should get high standing jobs in football just because they are women. Not because they are qualified, or live and breathe the game.

    Silly, reactionary, pandering, pc brigade journalism.

    But the Beeb did the same thing with the F1 team. Having women on there so no one can say they are being male-centric. Well it kind of backfires when you hear Holly Samos, in particular, always making comments about the drivers looks, and even Crofty introducing her as "the lovely Holly Samos" So the women correspondents get treated differently anyway. So is it still sexism if they find it flattering? And keeping on the F1 ladies rant, it was painful listening to her ask questions as she clearly had not a scooby about racing, or even cars in general it seemed. But yeah Beeb, compromise the quality of your coverage for the sake of saying "Ooh look how progressive we are, we have women in F1." Have women in F1 by all means, but at least have it based on merit, rather than the only prerequisite being having lady parts.

    Giving people jobs just because of their race or gender is just as racist/sexist as not giving people jobs based on their race/gender.

  • Comment number 90.

    To No.67 - You can't moan about Andy Gray's pedigree as a commentator, and then say Jonathan Pearce is the best. He is dull at best. I've always had phases of loving or hating Andy Gray, but either way he always put so much passion into every performance, and he had become the voice of the premier league for me (maybe not for those who don't have sky though!). And Adrian Chiles can be somewhat amusing, but just hasn't got the football knowledge.

    It looks like the main clip that Gray got sacked for was the comment to Charlotte Jackson - Just google her and see the first pictures that come up! I mean if she was making an innuendo to him, which in my opinion is no different in terms of sexism, there will be no uproar at all. Even if an older woman flirts suggestively with a younger guy, I doubt there would be any kind of reaction like this.

    I think it was still wrong and Gray deserved to be disciplined, but I believe if Sky wanted to keep him, they very easily could have. I mean if Jonathan Ross keeps his job for saying that ON AIR, then Sky would have had no problem allowing Keys to make his apology aware to the public for making comments OFF AIR.

    I hope Jeff Stelling steps up, but then i'll assume he'll leave Soccer Saturday, which would be terrible news - Now there's a show that can have guy banter, but keep it clean! Another thought though, could you imagine a female pundit on Soccer Saturday? I have nothing against it, but the banter on the show just couldn't carry on in fear of offending anyone! There is a very thin, hazy line, and as Gray and Keys found out, stepping on the line can turn out bad for your career!

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 92.

    Am I the only person to remember the time when Hansen said to Gabby "eh Gabby, even YOU can tell that that was offside" or something like that. Or does that get forgotten about because it's BBC and not Sky?

  • Comment number 93.

    David Bond doesn't do responses....but if he did they'd probably be the best responses in the world.

    However David, while you talk %'s of women working in football, pat yourself on the journalistic back over sport's power to shine a light on issues which go far beyond the confines of the pitch or seeing this as rightly condemned by fans, equality groups, the football authorities and the media....how about this statistic??

    % of known gay footballers in the Premier League = 0%



  • Comment number 94.

    The whole thing is ridiculous. Football has always been about banter and is often seen as a chance for boys to be boys. I have no problem in women coming and joining the fun, but are we really going to have to turn football into a PC bore like everything else?
    I'm not a fan of Andy Gray in fact quite the opposite and if they had got rid of him because he is a rubbish pundit fair enough, but he fact is they had a private not hugely offensive joke off air (and thats what it was a joke) and got sacked as a result. Besides whilst the linesgirl got the decision right (a good one) for the goal she also made possibly the worst offside call I have ever seen a few minutes later just after the commentator had praised her and he then let out a sigh as if to say 'perhaps she doesnt understand the game afterall' so perhaps Gray wasnt so wrong about her...

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 96.

    Agree that homophobia more of an issue than sexism. And sports TV media is scared to tackle it.

  • Comment number 97.

    Thank you very much, Mr Bond, for once again pointing out for us all what we already knew and for sprinkling it with bits that are irrelevant to the overall picture.

    Personally I wouldn't be too fussed if Phil Mcnulty was Chief Sports Editor here. At the very least he would provide us with a basic insight to these sort of things.

  • Comment number 98.

    Andy Gray made a mistake, but a suspension would have been more appropriate it.
    He ranged from good to bad, but I think he was mostly decent/OK.
    I'll remember him for one piece of commentary. The Ryan Giggs extra time goal in the FA Cup Semi final.
    At first all the could say, as the players and fans deliriously celebrated one of the most dramatic and greatest goals of modern times, was "Well, words fail me, words fail me." And then there was a period of silence of a few seconds and then he really did find his voice.
    And then he went on to deliver one of the best pieces of commentary I've ever heard, making it up as he went along, timing it perfectly with the replay of the goal, clearly touched by the emotion of the moment, clearly a real football fan, delivering it with perfect intonation and pitch:
    "And if this is the last semi-final replay goal we ever see
    Well, it'll rank with some of the greatest ever scored.
    He just bobbed and weaved and kept on going and when he needed a finish,
    My God did he give us one....
    After beating three, four, five players. Wonderful, wonderful, fit to win any football match."
    It doesn't do it justice just to write it down here, but in the context of the moment the commentary really did add something to the drama.
    I can hear it now, exactly as he said it.

  • Comment number 99.

    As long as there are sports who have teams of mini-skirted women stand on the sidelines and cheer this is a non-issue. Trouble is most ladies would rather stand around looking pretty than play the sports in question.

    Just search for famous women in sport and you will find that most of them at one time or another have done raunchy photoshoots for a mens magazine. Those ladies choosing to objectify themselves are just holding back other women who want to be taken seriously. I mean, the only famous female racing driver is in a photoshoot bending over a yellow hot rod with tiny underwear on. Not that I am complaining but where is the Rubens Barrichello equivalent?

    Seriously, Google Danica Patrick, look in Google images and judging by the images you would think she is a model, not a racing driver, by virtue of the fact that in most of the pictures she is wearing a bikini, not a race suit. But then search Google images for lewis Hamilton and you will find most of the pics of him are him on the job, in McLaren attire.

    So to the call from women to stop being objectified by men, I say, stop objectifying yourselves first. You can't expect professional respect from others if you don't have it for yourself.

  • Comment number 100.

    9. At 9:02pm on 27 Jan 2011, Luke91 wrote:
    "Having said that a dressing room full of young men is unlikely to be the best place to find enlightened comment on the opposite sex."

    That statement in itself is far from enlightened. Perhaps we should emphasise the "old" in talking about football being an old boys club. As a young man myself around the same age of many younger premier league footballers I find that whilst sexism is still an issue in my generation it is nowhere near as prevalent as it is with men over the age of 40, certainly less so than with the baby boomer generation.
    Lets not forget that Gray and Keys are both members of that generation and are showing outdated attitudes that will disappear as time moves on. Hopefully though we can eradicate such prejudices without having to wait for Old Father Time to do it for us.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Good point! I think a similar point could be made about the "Have you heard the one about the Englishman, Scotsman, Irishman, black man ....?" jokes. The younger generation isn't perfect, but then neither is the Alf Garnett generation.

    Is there a line between banter, and sexism and racism? How much is banter, and how much prejudice? In the case of Gray and Keys, I think it was prejudice laced with a generous drop of banter. When they said they were sorry, were they sorry for thinking it, saying it, or for getting caught? I would say the latter, for which I have even less respect for them than I had before. On the football side of things, I thought they did a good job of pumping up the volume, even if I found their personalities unappealing.

    Are they the tip of the iceberg? Yes. Does this happen everyday up and down the country and no-one blink an eye? Yes. Are Sky moral crusaders? No.

 

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