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Blog: Making mountains from sexist women referee comments

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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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2tcndFJBug

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."

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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.

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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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