Campaigners call for action against sexism of Keys and Gray
Equality campaigners in the UK and abroad have condemned comments by Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray as ‘medieval’ and ‘lacking understanding’.
Gray and Keys were stood down from Monday’s game between Bolton and Chelsea following comments about a female official.
Believing their microphones were off, Keys and Gray agreed that Sian Massey and other female assistant referees “did not know the offside rule”.
Maintaining a firm stance on the issue, the FA highlighted their support for female officials looking to enter at all levels of the game.
An FA spokesperson said: “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.”
Lord Herman Ouseley, Chair of Kick It Out, added: “This indicates a lack of understanding by individuals at the forefront of sports broadcasting who are revered and respected by many, and hints at wider issues about sexism in society.
“Kick It Out has worked hard over 17 years to ensure equality across all areas of football, from touchline to boardroom. Imbalance still remains but great strides have been made.
“These comments are unacceptable to the inclusion and diversity agenda of football as a whole.””
With relation to Keys and Gray being stood down by Sky for coverage of this evening’s game between Bolton Wanderers and Chelsea, Lord Ouseley commented:
“This is a matter for Sky Sports and how it treats its employees with relation to issues around equality and diversity, and what standards are set.
“If Sky feels its show is damaged due to having the individuals (Keys and Gray) involved, it’s up to the organisation to take action.”
The sentiments were echoed by European partners, FARE, a network active in 42 countries across Europe, and a long standing social responsibility partner of the European governing body UEFA.
Executive Director Piara Powar commented: “As the highly recognisable faces and voices of the Premier League on Sky Sports, Richard Keys and Andy Gray are mainstays of the sports broadcasting establishment.
“Their comments about the abilities of assistant referee Sian Massey and West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady reveal the appalling and damaging sexist attitudes that exist across football.
“It is unacceptable that two of British football’s biggest names are heard espousing views, whether intended for broadcast or not, that undermine and disparage the efforts of women in the game.
“In the year of the Women’s World Cup, an era when women and girls’ football is the biggest growing sport in the UK, and against the backdrop of women forming the majority of the UK population, their comments are medieval in tone, unacceptable and should lead to immediate action from BSkyB.”
Simone Pound, Head of Equalities for the PFA, said: “These comments are unfortunate, compounded by the fact that this year sees the Women’s World Cup take place, the UK hosting the UEFA Women’s Champions League final and the launch of the Women’s Super League in April.
“There is a place for both men and women in football on the football pitch, officiating the game, administering the game and watching the game.
“The greater inclusion of females in football since the difficult days of the 80’s has certainly contributed to a much better, enjoyable family atmosphere at all games.”