Blog: Making mountains from sexist women referee comments

Blog: Saturday’s post-match ramblings into still-active microphones might have been laddish and inaccurate – suggesting that a female assistant referee didn’t know the offside rule – but let’s stop this slide towards further action and demands for sackings.

Blog: Banter or bigotry? Backward step or harmless man-chat?

A job for the tribunal or the trivia bin?

Oh come on, get a grip country.

Saturday’s post-match ramblings into still-active microphones might have been laddish and inaccurate – suggesting that a female assistant referee didn’t know the offside rule – but let’s stop this slide towards further action and demands for sackings right now. Otherwise the next mighty march on the capital will be seeking the hides of Sky commentator Richard Keys and pundit Andy Gray for suggesting that women officials didn’t know the rules.

That was the thought before Sian Massey’s borderline call in the Wolves and Liverpool clash at Molineux.

Mr Keys said: “Someone ought to get down there and explain offside to her.”

And former Wolves and Everton player Gray added: “Women don’t know the offside rule.”

As it happens, the Football Association absolutely supported 25-year-old Sian’s decision and upheld that call as correct.

Now this may be a great, juicy one to lay into on a dull January Monday when there isn’t even a weather problem to complain about.

But do let’s keep it in proportion.

Sky have rapped knuckles and the FA says it has made "real strides in encouraging both male and female match officials to enter the game at every level” but for goodness' sake, don’t let the Saturday molehill between two old grumps become a discrimination mountain.

Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, our leading female sportswoman, who broke down barriers galore throughout her own career – England women’s cricket captain, the first woman to hit a six in Test cricket, the first captain of a women's side to play at Lord's, one of the first woman members of the MCC, a director of Wolves and numerous other appointments — enters the House of Lords tomorrow as Baroness Heyhoe-Flint of Wolverhampton.

The girl hasn’t done too badly then, has she?

Rachael and I did our early journalist training together and have been friends ever since. She may have conquered all manner of challenges but her feet have always stayed firmly on the ground.

This morning she said: “I know Richard and Andy very well and I would think this could even have been tongue on cheek. It’s true that many of us heard this sort of thing for years – I still do to a point with remarks as to what I know about cricket – but you just have to keep things in proportion. And if they heard some of the things we sometimes say about male officials, well, who knows!”

So Rich and Andy? Well, a daft pair. But while the likes of them are making daft remarks, thousands of competent women are getting on with what they do best and making a difference.

Please don’t let Silly Saturday become a national scandal. Because it’s not.

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Comments for: "Blog: Making mountains from sexist women referee comments"


Agree entirely, I am all for equality and for treating people with respect, but this incident should be filed under "Bloopers" where it belongs.


Disagree. Sexist remarks by public figures should be treated with the same level of attention and seriousness as racist or homophobic remarks. Discrimination is dicrimination no matter who it is directed toward. We should not turn a deaf ear just because this sort of discrimination is directed at women.


So it's OK to be insulting and discriminating when it's just boys together then? They are entitled to an opinion, sure, but I think these two dinosaurs need a reminder of what year it is - suspend them indefinitely!

Their comments were totally unacceptable even if they they thought they we speaking in private. Perhaps Karen Brady's comments are somewhat more valid than Key's was suggesting.


Well done lads, keep the faith. I have no issue with women refereeing womens' matches, but not top-flight male games. If they're so keen to adjudicate in football, and are of such a good standard, then why not help their gender and referee female football. It's off-putting for our strikers to see some skirt wobbling up and down the sidelines.


There seems to have been a resurgence of this sort of comment since the credit crunch. I am having to put up with this kind of "banter" almost daily these days. Before the credit crunch I hadn't heard it for maybe 20 years. The overall effect is very wearing. I've worked in the IT industry for 30 years and am now beginning to wonder if perhaps it isn't an appropriate job for a woman. Of course it is! And so is football refereeing if that's what a woman wants. None of us should have to put up with the drip, drip, drip of undermining whingeing of insecure middle-aged men ... or their female apologists either. We used to have "consciousness raising" in the 80's. Shirley Tartt, you definitely need yours raised.

mr r thomas

women have no right playing or having anything what so ever to do with football its a joke having women linesman ban all women from football Andy gray and peter keys were absolutely right in there comment's they said its embarrassing having women playing a mans only game they cant play ref or be linesman there more worried about there make up or breaking a nail FIFA do the right thing for once in you're life ban women from the game permanently you're a joke as it is this is just unbelievable what next FIFA men and women in the same teams in the premiership

Superstar Tradesman

I'm not sure! This is either a wind-up where by making my response mr r thomas has me hook, line & sinker. Or, mr r thomas really is a deeply inadequate caveman with no place at all in society who I would overlook to promote either Gray or Keys to represent 21st century man! I'm not altogether sure.

p.s. It's Richard Keys, not Peter.

p.p.s. Is there a problem with your Caps Lock mr r thomas?


I'm sorry but "tongue in cheek" requires a certain level of joking. They sounded absolutely serious and quite inflamed by the issue. "the game's gone mad" the comments about Karen. Indefensible.

More audio has come out btw. Nothing about this has shown to me that they were doing anything close to joking. If I heard this in person, I would be absolutely shocked and insulted and would have immediately confronted them.

Don Miles

"Daft" - and daft is what you want in commentators? I'd rather have knowledgeable and the two adjectives seem to me to contradict.

And "this could even have been tongue on cheek" - she doesn't sound too convinced to me.

Martin Luther King has persuaded many that you shouldn't judge by the colour of someone's skin. Maybe it's time someone else persuaded these two you can't judge what's between the ears by the shape of their body.


It's all a one way street isn't it? Everyone having to bend over backwards so as not to offend anyone. It seems to me the only people in society today that are "fair game" are white, straight men. A fine example is the tennis at Wimbledon. Why should the womens prize money be the same as the mens? Everyone just needs to relax, somethings just aren't worth getting upset about.


I knew Richard Keys was an Omen. The day he resigned Blues get to a cup final!!!

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