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Sexism sucks, so what can you do about it?

Update: Gray has been fired.

[email protected]

That is the email address SkySports offers if you want to contact football expert Andy Gray. And you should.

I know I am prone to the odd rant or two on PSP, but I try to steer clear of giving advice. Not this time.

Tell Gray what you think of the comments he made about Sian Massey, a female linesman working the Liverpool/Wolverhampton match on Saturday.

Mr. Gray isn’t the only culprit, but SkySports makes it more difficult to contact his commentating partner, Richard Keys.

Andy Gray: Yeah, I know. Can you believe that? Female linesman. Forget what I said – they probably don’t know the offside rule.

The “they” Mr. Gray is referring to is, of course, women in general. How delightful. I wonder if it gets better.

It does.

SkySports’ story on the incident features a photo of Massey – the linesman – with the caption, “centre of controversy.” Are you sure?

Gray and Keys aren’t pictured in the story. And the only punishment announced so far is that the duo was not allowed to call the Monday night match-up between Chelsea and Bolton. Barry Francis, managing director of SkySports, called the comments inexcusable. Then said, “We have dealt (Ed. note: past tense) with this matter by taking immediate disciplinary action… however they have been clearly warned about their behavior and reminded of their responsibilities.”

So this is what happens when you call an entire gender incompetent? Your employer frames the woman as the controversial figure and everyone leaps to her defense by declaring that you’re wrong about her because she got the crucial call of the game correct.

And what about Massey’s employer. Eager to jump to her defense? From the Guardian: “Mike Riley, general manager of the referees’ body said: ‘All referees and assistant referees are appointed on merit and ability. They are assessed on their performances only.'” That’s full-throated support… right?

Think for a moment about all of the divisions of English football. How many are there? Five? Seven? Fifty? And this 25-year old is already working in the Premier League on a nationally-televised stage. Of course she got the call right. This is nothing special. She has gotten a lot of calls right in her career or she would never have been assigned that flag on Saturday.

So when you have a free moment, instead of getting up to stretch your legs or cuing up highlights of the spectacular Meireles goal from Massey’s match, send Mr. Gray an email. Let him know what a great job he’s doing.

Then cruise on over to SkySports’ Best Of The Weekend. Check out the “Controversy of the Weekend.” Check out the “Gaffe of the Weekend.” Neither mentions the stunning, sexist comments from Gray and Keys. Soccer is a great sport, and I’m not saying Andy Gray and Richard Keys shouldn’t be allowed to watch it with the rest of us.

But from now on they should watch in silence.

***Badass Kenny Dalglish addendum, via Guardian: “Taking his seat at Melwood training ground, and before a question had been asked, Dalglish asked: ‘Is it OK for a lady to be here? It doesn’t affect Sky?’ The televised section of the press conference (Dalglish does a separate conference with written media afterwards) passed without the issue being raised until he said to Sky: ‘Is that your last question? So you’re not even asking me about lady officials? And you want me to answer your questions?’***

Full Transcript

Richard Keys: Well, somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.

Andy Gray: Yeah, I know. Can you believe that? Female linesman. Forget what I said – they probably don’t know the offside rule.

RK: Course they don’t.

AG: Why is there a female linesman? Somebody’s fucked up big.

RK: I can guarantee you there’ll be a big one today. Kenny [Dalglish, Liverpool’s manager] will go potty. This is not the first time. Didn’t we have one before?

AG: Yeah.

RK: Wendy Toms.

AG: Wendy Toms, something like that. She was fucking hopeless as well.

RK: [exasperated groan]

AG: [inaudible]

RK: No, no, it’s got to be done, it’s good. The game’s gone mad. See charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Yeah. Do me a favour, love.

8 Comments

  1. Ed Farnsworth says:

    Andy Gray did World Cup commentary for ESPN, if my memory serves me right. I wander if they have any thoughts on Gray’s employment status.

  2. I hope EA Sports releases an “Andy Gray sexist comments” audio update for FIFA11 soon.

  3. In a happy coincidence, my little sister just yesterday found out that she is being tracked to start officiating NCAA matches beginning in the fall. Top shelf female referee right there. What up Leah? Proud of you!

  4. good. now if we can actually tackle the rest of the sexism, and the homophobia, and the racism we’ll be getting somewhere.

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