Skip to Main Content
Members:   Log In  |  Sign Up
The Mail Bag

Sexism in football

Comments (31)

As a regular female contributor to ToffeeWeb I have a keen interest in all things Everton and by default football in general. I do know the offside rule as it happens, even though most linesmen have a hard time with it... but what do you expect from such dithering men?

Now, you see, that?s sexism, it's not offensive, just derogatory against men in general. In response, most men would raise their eyes and think ?Bloody stupid woman?? although not be quite so stupid as to say it in public, at least not on camera or in microphone distance if you work for Sky...

I live in Australia, it's not very politically correct at times, and you need a thick skin to survive; that?s the way it is in redneck Queensland.

But it's not just here, it's everywhere to some level or other. It's part and parcel of life in many areas; work, home and play ? and it never will change because of the nature of roles between men and women. As perceived by men, of course, and until the revolution that?s the way it is. Unless, of course, you're in the public eye, then we hold you to much higher levels of scrutiny.

Andy Gray and Richard Keys were idiots but they should not have lost their jobs. Indeed, to be correct, it was only Andy Gray who lost his because of innuendo towards a female colleague who it appeared was not bothered nor impressed by it. That?s NOT to say it's ok, because it isn?t, but I am sure she has heard and seen much worse. Because, for a woman, it?s a daily occurrence in many a work place.

Both incidents were off air, the later in my opinion far more serious than any comments regarding the capability of a female linesman, comments which were wholly initiated by Richard Keys not Andy Gray. In my opinion, Richard Keys instigated and by his comments not only implied sexism but frankly fostered it. Between two guys in a pub, happens every day; two guys in the public eye? Just plain stupid.

In my opinion, Richard Keys deserved to go for his initial comments about the linesman and women in general, his comments relating to Karen Brady just underlined his whole attitude. Stupid man.

The world has moved on, but not uniformly; in some places it?s still seen as banter, in others it's degrading and offensive. All depends on who and where you are. We should expect more but understand that change should not be done at the point of a gun. Education and acceptance are needed to change.

Before this is seen as a defence of Andy Gray and Richard Keys, it's not, not in the least! If they had made the comments on air then it would have been highly inappropriate and they would deserve everything they got. They didn?t, they had a private conversation that was recorded and released. Andy Gray's later act deserves what he got irrespective of being caught on camera or not. It wasn?t banter and it really would be offensive to a lot of women.

Strange though that both incidents were accidentally recorded and saved by someone who obviously had an agenda to do so.

Which brings me to a related point: what can you say in ?private? in a workplace? Has it reached the point where political correctness dictates that, between the hours of 9 ? 5, you are owned both physically and mentally by an employer? Does it mean you cannot voice an opinion to a colleague? Irrespective of it's correctness? Surely people will judge you for your own opinions and not stifle your ability to comment, dress or act on your own convictions without an employer dictating private conversations?

Football officials bear the brunt of every angry supporter, they are vented on because they don?t always get it right, not because of their gender. However, football is still a male-dominated sport from support to football administration and management.

One day, maybe not so far away, Everton might sign a world class striker and it may be a woman. How far away our attitudes to that happening? Will Gwladys Street cheer when she bangs in a hat-trick? Scary thought for many of you? It will never happen?

Sky made the right decision, although one has to ask about the motivation behind doing so and the way the incidents came to light. I hope they learn, but I doubt it.
Christine Foster, Brisbane     Posted 27/01/2011 at 08:14:26

back Return to the Mail Bag


Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer

Sean McCarthy
1   Posted 28/01/2011 at 00:50:54

Report abuse

One day maybe not so far away......hell will freeze over first!!
Women can play in womens leagues and men can play in mens leagues. Not rocking science. Or sexist!!
Sean McCarthy
2   Posted 28/01/2011 at 00:53:45

Report abuse

Or rocket science!!!
Doug Nestor
3   Posted 28/01/2011 at 00:57:29

Report abuse

If you want to invade a Man's world expect the same treatment.........we all take the mickey out of each other..........if you want to be there expect the same or don't bother..........I'm fed up with this PC bullshit..........
Kirk McArdle
4   Posted 28/01/2011 at 00:58:00

Report abuse

Another long piece by Christine there folks. Must of taken a bit of time to compose. Too long out of the kitchen not making the pie then!!

Seriously though, the whole episode has been blown out of a proportion. I think that the end result for the 2 presenters was a big plus point for Sky. It has been reported that Andy Gray was earning £1.7M per season. I thought that when he used Evertons bid to get him as manager before we had DM he negotiated an increase in his salary with Sky to almost £3M. Even so, let's say AG was on £1.7M, RK must of been on roughly the same. The 2 guys have been doing this for almost 20 years. I think Sky have taken this as an opportunity to get 2 big earners off of the wage bill and bring in younger and fresher faces. Like him or loath him but Jamie Redknapp is a good looking fella. (Can't believe he comes from wax faces loins). Whats the betting that we have a female lead anchor with JR as the tactical guy??

How about that to please the bra burners!!!
Lee Courtliff
5   Posted 28/01/2011 at 00:57:24

Report abuse

I am not a sexist and I am not scared by the thought of a woman playing for our club. BUT if you think a woman will ever play in the top division of English football, you are deluded. It's not a sexist thing, it's a common sense thing. Even in non-contact sports such as tennis or sprinting women do not compete against men. Simply because a man's body is better equiped to deal with certain physical demands than a women's. Almost all sports fall into that category!

Gray and Keys were dicks for getting caught but I don't think it was anything that bad at all. Nobody got hurt. A simple slap on the wrists would have done.

I work with a woman who makes much more suggestive comments than the one Gray made. I laugh about it with her because it's just a joke. This really isn't complicated, some people need to just stop being a touchy mard arse and there is nothing to worry about.

David Hallwood
6   Posted 28/01/2011 at 01:34:49

Report abuse

The one thing that no one's commented on is that this wasn't banter. To me banter is workmates taking potshots at each other with no holds barred. What Gray & Keys was doing was abusing their position of power, towards minions. What would have been interesting if when Gray said "tuck that in", she had replied "sorry luv, I don't do baldy fat old bastards" how would he have responded to the 'banter'?

The fact that not one of their former colleagues have gone on record to defend them suggests that they were a pair of odious fuckers that won?t be missed.
Steven Pendleton
7   Posted 28/01/2011 at 01:57:45

Report abuse

'One day, maybe not so far away, Everton might sign a world class striker and it may be a woman.'

Hasn't there been one playing for Livershite for the last few years of Spanish descent??
Albert Perkins
8   Posted 28/01/2011 at 01:57:17

Report abuse

Come on, most of you guys sound like such stereotypical sexist footie supporters. We can do better than this.

No one is asking for women to play in pro football, although if some outstanding players turn up I'd be happy to watch them. Everton might do better with a couple of our FA Cup winning ladies on Saturday. They score goals, you know, and win things.

Women deserve more respect in all areas of their lives and football is just one of them. How could a woman official be worse than some of the men we have berated down the years? Give them a chance.

And by the way, don't be such dicks!
John Maxwell
9   Posted 28/01/2011 at 02:49:29

Report abuse

Keys and Gray actions were wrong, but this just highlights the problems with PC and the media.

Absolute madness.
Charlie Percival
10   Posted 28/01/2011 at 02:58:34

Report abuse

#1 Sean McCarthy.

Next time you go to the time and effort of writing an article, Ill look forward to responding in the manner you have.
David Ellis
11   Posted 28/01/2011 at 07:05:03

Report abuse

Two points
1. Unlikely that women will play for Everton - but if they're good enough then that's fine by me. But women compete with men in very few sports - so this is unlikley to ever happen in football.

2. More importantly. Is the sacking of Keys and Gray just "PC nonsense" or is it important.

I've got to say I think this is important. It is just banter. But its not harmless. How would people feel if the banter was that "Chinese people" don't know the offside rule. or that Jews don't. Or short people don't. It's not harmless. It reinforces prejudices that are simply wrong.

I am no saint. I indulge in Keys/Gray type banter with my friends in private, I am of a similar vintage. But I think Sky got this right and it sends a powerful message that although this is banter its is not harmless (certainly not in the public domain) and it is not acceptable.
Chris Lawlor
12   Posted 28/01/2011 at 09:14:36

Report abuse

A salient article and definitely worth more than the 1st reply warranted. Its highly unlikely that in our lifetimes a woman will line up in the first team and that is based purely on reasons of anatomy and physicality.

As for the overall point, Sky got the decision bang on. They are like it or not the flag bearer for British football and cannot be seen to have 2 of its prime employees behaving on or off screen they way they have been.

Like most of the rest of you on here I have similar conversations with lads at home/work/pub that sense it is banter and not directed at anyone in particular....what messrs Keys and Gray were involved in seems to be a sustained period of abuse of position hence their build up of enemies at Sky and the subsequent release of the damning footage. Basically the modern world caught up with them.

I have no doubt they will both re surface in more lucrative positions..perhaps on Italian football channels where Mr Burlosconi will welcome them with open arms!
James Lauwervine
13   Posted 28/01/2011 at 09:30:24

Report abuse

I hope the explanation for the first few posts is the late hour and a skinful of beers. Well said Christine, though I have to agree with others who can't see a way that women could ever play in the men's league. That's not sexist of course but based on the nature of how the game is played and the importance of strength and speed.
Matthew Mackey
14   Posted 28/01/2011 at 10:05:32

Report abuse

Christine, I'm glad that as a women you appear to be thick skinned and level headed. Your article is good and raises many good points.
However I am (again) slightly irritated by the particular issues surrounding Karen Brady and what Richard Keys said about her. In the original tape/transcript that was leaked out from SKY last weekend Richard Keys said something along the lines of...

"I see Karen Brady has been at it again this morning in the papers about sexism in football... do me a favour love"

My question to you Christine and every other female in the world and every politically correct nurd out there... is that comment by RK really that offensive? Does it really warrant him having to justify himself and thus eventually having to resign?

Do me a favour love.
Chris Lawlor
15   Posted 28/01/2011 at 10:19:12

Report abuse

Matthew..I think the deathknell for Keyes was his comments about a member of Sky's production team and the fact that Jamie Redknapp would be hanging out the back of her given the chance....Would ya smash it?! Funny but ultimately his undoing.

As for Karen Brady...that woman is a viper and I doubt any of this forure has disrupted her in anyway shape or form.
Ant Sorvoja
16   Posted 28/01/2011 at 10:38:42

Report abuse

Redneck Queensland? You must be joking or maybe you just forgot to put on your sunscreen.
Steven Pendleton
17   Posted 28/01/2011 at 11:32:46

Report abuse

'that?s the way it is in redneck Queensland.'

Aren't we trying to shy away from labels and stereotypes Christine? I'm afraid you've fallen foul of it yourself. I'm sure the average banana bender (it means Queenslander to those folk not living in Australia) will take umbrage to this statement.

Maybe you should be sacked from posting on Toffeeweb.
Dale Forbes
18   Posted 28/01/2011 at 12:01:43

Report abuse

Christine, I applaud your bravery to broach this very contentious subject. Of course, one day a woman will play in the top flight. Many barriers are being broken in other sports, like golf. It's like people saying that the 10 sec barrier would never be broken in the 100m or women will never drive busses or a black person would never play topflight football. Some of our players like Osman are hardly giants. One day a big strong and talented woman will come along and make the grade.
Matthew Mackey
19   Posted 28/01/2011 at 12:15:29

Report abuse

Chris #15 ? I agree, the footage of Keys talking with Redknapp about "hanging out the back of her and did he smash it" was more serious and close to the edge (cringeworthy, I'd say). But again I ask: is it really a sackable offence or an issue to resign over?

99% of companies up and down the land operate a disciplinary procedure programme which goes in stages from verbal warning, written warning, final warning and then dismissal. So if Grey and Keys were as bad as some people are saying then why were they not subject to such a procedure within the workplace if their behaviour was deemed to be unacceptable? If I was out of order at work and caught saying these kind of things then my boss would pull me in and give me the appropriate warning (verbal/written/final).

I think the answer may lie in the fact that the Sky bosses may have wanted to make changes which involved removing Gray and Keys, but they didn't know how to go about it as these two were quite powerful. Then when realizing there was resentment within the lower ranks of technicians, they joined forces to hatch a plot which would justify moving them out.

I still personally think the whole episode is absolutely ridiculous.
Christopher McCullough
20   Posted 28/01/2011 at 12:31:34

Report abuse


I'm going to be living in Australia for most of 2012, I'm not sure I would fit in with a bunch of rednecks. Is it really that bad?

Regarding the Gray sacking; I'm glad. He's a boring bastard.

Regarding sexism in football and workplace; It's a patriarchal process of assimilation but i'm suren it surfaces now and again. We all have to adopt or discover an alternative lifestyle. In my view, the old fashioned sexism, sectarianism, racism etc is more palatable than the the apparant sophistication and hypocrisy that prevails in this foul year of Our Lord.

It's best to treat people as you find them without preconceptions, I think.
Christopher McCullough
21   Posted 28/01/2011 at 12:49:21

Report abuse

And for crying out loud, his sacking had nothing to do with sexism.
Chris Rudd
22   Posted 28/01/2011 at 12:21:00

Report abuse

It's an interesting and complex argument and many people seem to agree that Keys and Gray were foolish and immature but equally the punishment is an over-reaction. Or is it that simple?

Perhaps at a time when age-ism is such a popular topic in the media, it just gave Sky a great opportunity to rid themselves of two of the older generation of presenters who are both on very lucrative contracts. The speed with which the second and third pieces of film came to light seemed just a tad too convenient for me.

Whether, the final judgement is right or wrong there seems to be a great deal of selective amnesia going on amongst many of the offended parties.

Sky have created an environment where they're quite happy to have their sports news delivered by attractive blondes - quite possibly very bright attractive blondes but you get my drift...

Charlotte Jackson, the innocent victim of Andy Grays lewd behaviour is hardly Snow White and was quite happy to use the 'Lads Mags' route to further her career once Setanta had bitten the dust.

Talksport, who's presenters - particularly Adrian 'holier than thou' Durham have been queueing up to 'protect' both Charlotte, Karren Brady and the female assistant referee (which is in itself fairly patronising), sends out an online magazine each week which asks readers to answer sports questions a five year old would hardly struggle with, in return for seeing their babe of the week disrobe.

And let's not forget Ms Brady who continually demands that women in business be taken seriously and complains about them being seen as simply 'eye candy' - remind me how the two men who pay her substantial salary made their millions?

So, all in all a shed full of hypocrisy is being exhibited by the various parties.

For my money the only real victim in the first instance was Sian Massey and as she got the offside decision correct, she'd already answered Gray and Keys in the best way possible. and it should have been them who were made to look foolish by an on-screen apology.

I'm not over fussed by G and K but lord save us from any extra Jamie Redknapp!
Christine Foster
23   Posted 28/01/2011 at 13:29:05

Report abuse

Interesting perspectives, good comments and some amusing ones too, Steven, forgive me but I did write with tongue in cheek deliberately intending a few female barbs to see just what a response is when its done the other way.. so to speak.

You see its quite ok for men to speak of women in a derogitory way, but heaven forbid.. you'll note however I was not lewd, just sexist. I hope I made my point.

For the record, Queensland isn't full of rednecks, there are some great people here who would give you the shirt of their back.

But I for one don't see a female centre forward at Everton, not this side of Christmas anyway. Although the way its going it may be the only loan we can bring in. And please no comments about showers...

Matthew (14) Keys took umbridge at Karen Brady AFTER instigating personal comments regarding women in football with Andy Gray. Underlining his beliefs that women have no part to play in the game. As a prominent representative of football and the modern game, he was held up, like most politicians, as people who influence and shape views. He gave commentary on football and his comments, even though given privately, did damage image of Sky and football in general.
I still wonder though how such recordings were made and kept adn used and why.
Christopher McCullough
24   Posted 28/01/2011 at 13:56:37

Report abuse

Good to hear that about Queensland, Christine.

To answer your last question succinctly; Murdoch.
Christine Foster
25   Posted 28/01/2011 at 14:02:07

Report abuse

Chris (24) Yes, did wonder that Gray was taking NOTW to court for alleged phone hacking, it's a bit difficult taking your employer to court whilst still employed..

I think they jumped with restrained glee when the recording landed on the desk...
Tony J Williams
26   Posted 28/01/2011 at 16:26:25

Report abuse

One thing that I would like to know is how the recording got out into the public arena? It was off air and off camera so no-one and I mean no-one would have heard it unless it was "leaked"

I work in a solicitors office and I hear and say some things that if the client's heard we would be sacked, but that the point, the phone has been hung up and the conversation ended so they wouldn't have heard it unless someone else told them.

The point I am trying to make is that Grey and Keys are both male dickheads, most of us men are but when on camera they are "professional" so why would a larking about or a gossiping session that no-one but the two of them would have heard be reason for a sacking. The public would never have heard any of this but for it being leaked.

Dickheads? Yes but set up dickheads all the same.
Chris Lawlor
27   Posted 28/01/2011 at 16:34:00

Report abuse

Tony, Keys and Gray had apparantly made quite a few enemies at Sky over the last number of years and the story materialising seems to suggest that their behaviour was becoming an embarresment to a management level that wasnt built around ex players etc. Its blatant that their departure was manafactured but its seems it was done with clinical ease.
Tony J Williams
28   Posted 28/01/2011 at 17:14:01

Report abuse

Exactly Chris, but the pertinent issue is that we didn't know any of this prior to teh story getting out on Sunday.

All off camera and all off air, just like our kind of conversations in the pub or in the break room at work.

I was probably one of the first in teh pub to notice that the lino was a girl and yes, you've guessed it, the first thing I said to my mates was that she probably wounldn't have any idea about the off side rule. Luckily enough I wasn't sacked from my job
Tony J Williams
29   Posted 28/01/2011 at 17:24:55

Report abuse

After reading my last post I should be sacked for not being able to type
Peter Dry
30   Posted 29/01/2011 at 23:27:14

Report abuse

Chris Rudd touched on this but isn't it funny how all the women presenters at Sky are good looking, young blondes with great figures. Where are all the womens lib groups campaigning for fat ugly women with warts on the end of their noses to have a chance? Equal rights for women, yes but for ALL women.
Steve Smith
31   Posted 31/01/2011 at 01:43:35

Report abuse

And now the REAL reason why Gray was sacked, Gray is taking legal action against the NotW concerning the phone hacking scandal; as you all know, the rag is owned by Murdoch. Not so strange then that Sky managed to come up with other recorded evidence against Gray, almost on demand; sort of makes you think they've been looking for it for a while doesn't it? Probably since the day that Gray's lawsuit landed on the NotW's doormat.

The hypocrisy of Sky astounds me; this is a channel that parades a "soccerette" to be leered at by older men who should know better on their Soccer AM show, and then tells us that there's no place for sexism in their organisation.

Add Your Comments

In order to post a comment to the MailBag, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.

Log in now

Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and MailBag submissions across the site.

© ToffeeWeb

Latest News

Subscribe to The Athletic, Get 40% off

Online Football Betting with Betway

Bet on Everton and get a deposit bonus with bet365 at

Recent Articles

Talking Points & General Forum

Pinned Links


We use cookies to enhance your experience on ToffeeWeb and to enable certain features. By using the website you are consenting to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.