Unfortunately for Sky and the two men in particular, all of that changed when they had a discussion before the Wolves against Liverpool game on Saturday. They believed that their microphones were off and that they were having a private conversation off air. They weren’t and now they are in big trouble.
Twenty-five year old female Sian Massey was one of the assistant referees at the game and the comments of the two men were about her.
“Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.”
“Women don’t know the offside rule.”
It actually got worse. Talking about an article in a morning newspaper about sexism in football, written by West Ham vice-chairman Karen Brady, Keys said,
“See charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Yeah. Do me a favour love.”
As Keys himself said. Charming!
The reaction to the comments has been understandably strong. Keys and Gray were removed from their roles at last night’s game between Bolton and Chelsea. The managing director of Sky, Barney Francis, was highly critical of the pair yesterday,
“Their comments were totally unacceptable. I have spoken directly to both Richard Keys and Andy Gray this morning. It has been made clear to each of them that their comments were totally unacceptable.
“Those views are inexcusable, entirely inconsistent with our ethos as a business and employer, and will rightly offend many of our customers, our people, and the wider public. They are inexcusable from anyone at Sky, regardless of their role or seniority.
“We have dealt with this matter by taking immediate disciplinary action. As with any employee it would not be right to go into detail on those proceedings. However, they have been clearly warned about their behaviour and reminded of their responsibilities. In addition, Richard and Andy will not be involved in any way with tonight’s live Monday Night Football.”
On Twitter, England captain Rio Ferdinand said,
“I’m all for women refereeing in football, discrimination should not happen in our game at all. Prehistoric views if you think otherwise.”
Karen Brady was angry and disappointed that her article had been so publicly proved right so quickly,
“I just think it’s unfair. Here is somebody doing a very important job under very difficult circumstances, who deserves and warrants our respect and here are two people who other people listen to and get their views from not giving her a chance.
“Everyone is entitled to a personal opinion but what really upsets me is the fact that only females in our industry are judged by their gender and that is categorically wrong. I don’t think any of the comments were anything other than sexism. You know ‘we’d better go down and tell her the offside rule.’ I’m surprised they didn’t say ‘we’d better go down and tell here to put the kettle on.’
“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.”
A large amount of people were queuing up to have a go at Keys and Gray, rightly so. Very few people were prepared to come out in support of the two men.
There will no doubt be apologies and there will no doubt be excuses given that the two men were only joking and ‘bantering’. Whether that is the case or not, they should not have said what they did.
What do you think? Should Sky get rid of these people or should everyone accept that they thought they were in private and therefore an apology should suffice?
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An apology from the two would do. They are good at their job, especially Andy.
In my view, it’s an overreaction from the Sky management to sack a long-time pundit like Andy. They have totally overreacted.