Prior to a Premier League match, whilst working for Sky Sports in 2011, Richard Keys and Andy Gray were caught making sexist comments about assistant referee Sian Massey, believing they were off-air.
The ex-Scotland international said: “Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don’t know the offside rule.” To which the broadcast presenter replied: “Course they don’t.”
Further footage of Gray then emerged of him making a derogatory comment to Sky Sports presenter Charlotte Jackson, asking her to help fit a microphone down the front of his trousers.
The due was rightly and deservedly sacked from their well-paid positions as sexism incident’s like this one don’t belong in football and never will.
The Moyes’ ‘slap’ remark
However, fast forward six years and we have another unfortunate situation, this time in the case of David Moyes and BBC reporter Vicki Sparks.
The Sunderland boss was caught off-air threatening to give the interviewer a ‘slap’ after she challenged him about whether owner Ellis Short’s presence meant he was under more pressure during Sunderland’s relegation fight.
Moyes has been given time to respond to the FA regarding the matter and is likely to face punishment, even though his club want to move on despite admitting his comments were ‘wholly unacceptable’.
Sparks probably wants to forget the incident as much as Moyes
Sparks dealt with the situation with humour and dignity and did not see any reason why it should have been made public.
In fact, if it wasn’t complained about by her boss, then it would have stayed very much a private matter which is probably what she would have wanted.
Obviously Moyes’ comments were distasteful and he does regret them, evident in his apologies to Sparks.
But, why wasn’t it left there? The case should have been closed with both free to go on and continue their jobs without the increased media spotlight shining on them.
In a male dominated industry, women in sports media would love nothing more than to be treated as equally as men and if Moyes had made that comment to a male, would it had received the same reaction?
No it would not. Women don’t want men to feel like they have to be careful with what they say around them and they certainly don’t need any special treatment.
Completely different situation to Gray and Keys
Moyes isn’t a nasty character. All his career he has conducted himself in a respectful manner and decided to light-heartedly remind Sparks she should be careful with her questioning whilst in his domain – something he would have done with anyone, male or female.
He hasn’t questioned her ability to perform her job correctly, unlike Gray and Keys, and he hasn’t made any derogatory hurtful remarks based on the fact she is a woman.
It was merely ‘banter’ and although many people use that word to try and be hurtful to someone without causing offence, this wasn’t the case here.
Written down, Moyes’ comments do seem unacceptable.
‘Just getting a wee bit naughty there at the end, so just watch yourself. You still might get a slap, even though you’re a woman. Careful the next time you come in’, he said.
However, anybody in their right mind would realise that Moyes makes these remarks in a light-hearted tone that was meant as a laugh at the end of the interview. It was by no means said to cause offence and none was taken by Sparks.
Moyes has made his apology, we must all now move on
This all feels blown out of proportion and the FA should sweep it under the rug like Sunderland and Sparks have chosen to do.
Keys and Gray don’t belong in football for their disgusting behaviour but this situation is completely different and Moyes should feel very hard done if he is caused punishment by the FA.
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