Premier League - Female linesman defies sexist comments
Mon, 24 Jan 14:27:00 2011
Female assistant referee Sian Massey made a mockery of Richard Keys and Andy Gray with a flawless performance in Wolves' game against Liverpool.
The Sky presenters were recorded making insulting off-air remarks before the game.
“Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her,” Keys said on a leaked tape.
Gray replied: “Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don’t know the offside rule.”
The pair have been suspended for Sky's broadcast of the Monday night match between Bolton and Chelsea, and their comments were made to look ridiculous by Massey.
The 25-year-old got a key decision spot on in her second Premier League game, correctly adjudging midfielder Raul Meireles to be onside in the build-up to the first goal in Liverpool's 3-0 win.
West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady was also targeted by Keys, who said: "See charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Yeah. Do me a favour love."
Brady was among a host of high-profile figures to condemn the remarks, saying: "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."
Former referee Graham Poll added: "It must be very difficult for female match officials to progress in men’s football and any who do, do so on merit and should be held up as role models, not subjected to outdated, sexist attitudes ...( Sian Massey) is already on the FIFA assistant referees’ list in women’s football and at just 25 that is a magnificent achievement. "
Michaela Tabb, a snooker referee who has officiated the World Championship final, said: : "What they have done there is completely unacceptable because they have not given her her place at all as an official. They are basically doubting her ability. She has obviously passed every exam and whatever qualifications she's had to go through."
England captain Rio Ferdinand said on Twitter: "I'm all for women refereeing in football, discrimination should not happen in our game at all ... prehistoric views if u think otherwise."
Hugh Robertson, the sports minister, commented: "It is very disappointing to hear these comments at a time when we are trying to get more women participating and officiating in sport, particularly football."
The FA released a statement saying: "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."Eurosport