Gray and Keys dropped after sexist outburst
Rio Ferdinand puts the boot in as sexist Sky Sports presenters suspended from tonight’s big football match
Sky Sports has dropped host Richard Keys and football pundit Andy Gray from covering tonight's game between Chelsea and Bolton after they were recorded making sexist comments about female linesman Sian Massey before a match on Saturday.
The pair had been discussing the afternoon's match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool. After their piece to camera, Keys spotted the lineswoman and said to Gray, thinking his microphone had been turned off: "Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her."
Gray replied: "Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don't know the offside rule."
Keys: "Of course they don't. I can guarantee you there will be a big one today. [Liverpool manager] Kenny Dalglish will go potty."
The object of the two men's ridicule, 25-year-old Sian Massey, did indeed have a "big one" to call, but Dalglish would have been very happy - not potty. Massey's borderline decision ruling that Liverpool player Raul Meireles was onside led to Fernando Torres' first goal. Massey was jeered by Wolves fans - but TV replays showed the assistant referee was right.
Massey wasn't the only woman to find herself on the end of Keys and Gray's sexist banter. Keys turned his attention to West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, who had written a piece in Saturday's Sun newspaper about sexism in football.
"The game's gone mad," Keys said. "Did you hear charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Do me a favour, love."
When the Mail on Sunday asked Keys about the conversation, he told them: "I have no idea what you are talking about. My recollection is that I wished the young lady all the best."
Told that they had a recording of the conversation, Keys, rather than taking the opportunity to apologise, said: "If you have a tape then you don't need me to talk to you."
Sky later released a statement claiming Keys and Gray had indeed apologised: "The comments are not acceptable. They were not made on air but we have spoken to Richard and Andy and told them our views and they have apologised and expressed their regret."
But the statement does not seem to have been enough.
Today, Manchester United defender and England captain Rio Ferdinand waded into the row today, saying on his Twitter account that female match officials ought to be judged on their ability to referee. He added: "I'm all for women refereeing in football, discrimination should not happen in our game at all... prehistoric views if u think otherwise."
Meanwhile, Dalglish's daughter Kelly Cates, a sports reporter with ESPN wrote on Twitter: "Phew am exhausted. Just read about something called 'the offside rule'. Too much for my tiny brain. Must be damaged from nail polish fumes." ·