Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ref like a Girl

Youtube exploded early this week with the audio recording of two English soccer sportscasters, Andy Gray and Richard Keys, whose conversation about a female linesman was inadvertently recorded before a Liverpool vs Wolverampton game on Saturday. Before the game had even started, this is what they said about 25 year old female linesman Sian Massey:

Keys: Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her.

Gray: Can you believe that? A female linesman. Women don’t know the offside rule.

Keys: Didn’t we have (a female linesman) before? Wendy Toms?

Gray: Yeah. She was f*&^%$ ing hopeless as well.

Keys: The game’s gone mad.

Initially each received a one game suspension for their remarks. Interestingly, Sian Massey herself, who made fans angry over a tough offside call during the game but was later vindicated by replay footage, was also asked to suspend her referring duties for a game, due to the controversy created by Gray and Keys.

Why’d they have to go and say that? And why did all the bloggers and commenters supporting the sportscasters have to say stuff like “Yeah, they were right, women should stay in the kitchen where they belong!” They are, by association, helping ruin reputations everywhere for the good guys who support women in sport—the dads who get their hands dirty every Sunday morning putting up nets for their daughter’s teams; for the ones who play goalie in the backyard even though they’re tired and would rather be inside, flaked out, while their daughters take shots at them; even for the ones I play with who pass to me and the other women during pickup games without hesitation. Both Gray and Keys have kids. Can’t they see how young and nervous Massey looks out there in her first big outing as a premier league linesman? Couldn’t they have given her a chance, before assuming without having seen her work, that she is ‘hopeless as well’?

Despite a shoddy apology in which Gray says “I am very sorry that certain comments made by me have caused offence,” he has now been sacked by Sky Sports, because of additional footage of him behaving inappropriately towards a female co-worker last month. Richard Keys resigned today.

Good riddance. Keys says he apologized directly to Sian Massey and they ‘enjoyed some banter’ and ‘left on good terms’. If that’s true, she’s a better woman than I am. If it were me, I would find it hard not to mention the widely reported fact that he has such freakishly hairy hands he has sought laser treatment to remove it. “Really, now Keys,” I would say. “You had to pay for its removal? I am surprised the hair doesn’t just wear off when you drag your knuckles on the ground, walking around.”

But Mrs. Kelly Cates, a former Sky Sports newscaster herself who now works for ESPN said it best. Yesterday on Twitter she posted “Phew. Am exhausted. Just read about something called “the offside rule”. Too much for my tiny brain. Must be damaged from nail polish fumes.”


  1. For the record... I pass the ball to you because you have a much better shot than I do! Although I do like your nail polish.

  2. I don't know what the big "to do" about a female linesman is all about. Her eyes are probably better than a guys. pfft poncey englishmen

    Those 2 should be forced to play against Elizabeth Lambert

    -Man who cheered for Brigham Young

  3. My husband and I saw Sian on TV yesterday and I could not get over how strong she was. When they showed a picture of her in a tank top I literally gasped. I was so amazed that I wasn't even thinking and I just blurted out: "wow honey, your arms look like toothpicks compared to hers." I immediately realized that I had just told my husband I thought a 25 year old girl was stronger than him and I profusely apologized. Thankfully he just laughed, but I started thinking about it and came to believe that that is why so many guys are uncomfortable with a strong woman like Elizabeth Lambert or Sian Massey. They realize that these women are physically superior to them and it intimidates them. You know what though guys, deal with it. My husband is the same age as Sian and he admitted to me that he could never do her job. So what? Sian got where she is because she had what it takes and because she's a professional that knows what she's doing. If you give her a chance you guys might actually learn something from her.