Handbags at Sky?

Once again our beautiful game is at the centre of controversy, no not because of a few brown envelopes or because a player has jumped ship for another a club.

The ‘should women be in football’ debate has reared its ugly pink head again. So Mr ‘I have more hair on one arm than the whole of my body ’ Keys (and trust me I’ve met him, he does) and Andy ‘who actually gives a flying fish what you think anyway’ Gray were caught on tape slagging off the female linesman, questioning if she knew the offside rule.

Now before I start can I just point out two things:

1)       Linesman? Or lineswoman? Either way it’s wrong, fellas get it right – they’re assistant referees.

2)      Oh and while I’m on it, it’s the offside law, not rule. Unless I’m mistaken it’s the LAWS of the game, not the rules.

Anyway I digress, as a lifelong female football fan I can see why some people can be a bit, shall we say, peed off by their comments. But for gods sake if you want to eradicate this so called ‘sexism in football’ then DON’T make a big deal out of it.

This sort of uproar on the subject just adds fuel to the fire. Yes it sells papers, yes it causes debate, but at the end of the day, apart from getting dark, it just means more tension in football and her spot-on decisions show what idiots Keys and Gray really are.

If they were caught slagging off a rookie ref, someone who was in their first season in the Premiership and looks more like Dougie Howser MD than a grown up ref, there wouldn’t be this kind of uproar for ageism would there?

So why are the female fans in uproar?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, that’s what makes football the sport that we love. If that’s their opinion let them get on with it. If Sian Massey (the female behind the rows if anyone cares) just gets her head down and proves them wrong, then in a few months everyone will have forgotten all about it.

Ladies, it’s not plonkers like Gray and Keys that cause sexism in football. It’s YOUR reactions to their stupid comments that do. And while I’m on opinions I think women’s football is boring and I’d rather watch paint dry than the women’s singles Wimbledon final.

But that’s another blog altogether …

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  3. eggsoakley says:

    This season in my sunday league ‘Herts Advertiser’ I had my first woman ref, who was introduced last season. I thought here we go, she will get plenty of stick and look out of depth. But she had a great game, and showed me and my team mates that woman have a place in the game officiating, and doing it well. Those two berks at Sky have been watching football far too long from the comfort of a television studio and not at grass roots level. Get them to come along to a lower league match with a woman ref or lino and see what they say afterwards, on air or not.

  4. Frankie says:

    Superb article Laura… if it’s not racism, it’s homophobia, if it’s not that, it’s islamophobia… there is always something to dig football fans out about!

    Most people don’t care what sex you are as long as you do a great job.

  5. Sophie S says:

    Great article, as a female football fan who goes to games you have to be used to existing in a male dominated environment…come on girls wake up, football has been like this for years and women that actually go to games should know this. A bit of banter is the best way to defuse this, not by starting a witch hunt at these two. Karen Brady has been up in arms about this, but she is the one giving women in football and bad name, and is only going over the top about it as she considers herself a spokesperson for women in football! Lara you are right, wise up ladies, this reaction is way OTT x

  6. slimshady says:

    Hey, good article, thought some reactions I’ve seen online are absolutely OTT, and of no help at all. Thumbs up to you!

  7. eleanor says:

    And here I disagree.

    If Keys and Gray had said that blacks didn’t know the offside rule it would be racism, and they would be sacked.
    If Keys and Gray had said that Jews didn’t know the offside rule it would be anti-Semitism and they would be sacked.
    If Keys and Gray had said that a disabled person didn’t know the offside rule then it would be discriminatory and they would be sacked.

    But because it’s women that are being undermined the acuteness of the comments are brushed aside and treated very differently. With women such comments constitute a special case.

    It’s a question of principle and if you want to be excluded from that principle then that’s your prerogative, but I don’t.

    Perhaps if no one made a fuss about segregation in America it would have been dismantled before it was. The same may well have been true over Apartheid or Women’s Suffrage or any cause throughout history – because if there’s one thing that history tells us it’s that keeping quiet achieves goals.

    And @Frankie, this isn’t about bashing “football fans” it’s about outing two misogynists. It’s nothing to do with football fans. And yes, “Most people don’t care what sex you are as long as you do a great job” but if you’re a woman you’ll still be paid less than a man.

    And @Sophie S, yes “football has been like this for years” but it’s still an unacceptable status quo. While you may be willing to absorb it, give as good as you get, and match men banter-for-banter, I am not. Being quick-witted is fine, but it’s only ever temporary. Which is why we’re still battling now.

    We need incidents like the Keys and Gray one to focus and highlight just how far we haven’t come and why what they said goes beyond simply being wrong.

    It’s also why I’m keen to disassociate myself from some of the comments above.

  8. jaelle says:


  9. Rascal Admin says:

    Jaelle, if you can’t engage the author of the blog without being civil, you can’t comment at our site.



    • eleanor says:

      I actually thought she was wholly accurate and pretty restrained given the circumstances.

      Way better than my feeble effort.

      • Adam WWFC says:

        Are you two a double team? no need to use foul language presumably! Eleanor I think you think you put across a valid point…the point I made is that Ron Atkinson was sacked for another ‘ism’ and how do you distinguish what ‘ism’ is worse and therefore a sackable offence. Racism is not tolerated in football, but sexism is and this is why they won’t get sacked. Coupled with the fact they are the top presenters for football coverage.

        I think you are right to stand up for what you believe in, but I also think Sophie is right as it is about laughing in the face of this ‘ism’ the same way black people turned around a very offensive word and made it in to a joke to diffuse the stigma attached to it. It was very tempting to come on here and wind you up, but this is a good blog and a great debate…but it was tempting and I wouldn’t have had that temptation if you hadn’t expressed such strong views.

        Good point though, well made and put across…everyone agrees I would think, but you cannot change football and the fact your passion will make you more of an easy target.

  10. Pringalez Maximus says:

    I hear she was rather cute, that can never be a bad thing

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