Sexism controversy

Gray leaves Sky Sports

January 25, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Pundit Andy Gray has left Sky Sports in the aftermath of his controversial comments on female officials.

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Sky has confirmed it has terminated his contract in light of "new evidence of unacceptable and offensive behaviour".

Along with presenter Richard Keys, Gray was caught off camera making controversial comments about assistant referee Sian Massey ahead of Liverpool's 3-0 victory over Wolves on Saturday.

Keys suggested that "somebody better get down there and explain offside to her", and Gray added: "They probably don't know the offside rule".

Sky News released footage on Monday evening of Gray in conversation with Sky Sports reporter Andy Burton. Burton, who has been stood down for Wednesday night's Carling Cup semi-final, referred to Massey as a "bit of a looker" while Gray again said she would be unaware of the offside rule.

Keys has since telephoned Massey to apologise and, although Gray had not been in contact, a Sky spokesman said: "It wasn't a case of Andy not apologising. It doesn't really make sense for both of them to call."

However, after footage emerged of Gray joking that Sky Sports News presenter Charlotte Jackson should help him to tuck his shirt in, he has now left the company.

A statement read: "Sky Sports today terminated its contract with Andy Gray. The decision, which is effective immediately, was made in response to new evidence of unacceptable and offensive behaviour.

"The new evidence, relating to an off-air incident that took place in December 2010, came to light after Andy Gray had already been subjected to disciplinary action for his comments of January 22, 2011."

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said on Tuesday: "Andy Gray's contract has been terminated for unacceptable behaviour.

"After issuing a warning yesterday, we have no hesitation in taking this action after becoming aware of new information today."

Massey has been withdrawn from the League Two game between Crewe and Bradford on Tuesday night.

Professional Game Match Officials general manager Mike Riley said: "PGMO and Sian believe that, with any football match, the focus should not be on the officials but on the players and the game itself.

"Sian is an excellent professional who has unwittingly found herself in the middle of a story that has nothing to do with her competence as a match official.

"Sian only wants to be notable for her performance as an assistant referee and is keen for things to get back to normal so she can return to officiating as soon as possible.

"Sian has the full backing of PGMO and we hope she continues her development, which has shown excellent progress so far. It is important for PGMO to have talented people from all backgrounds getting involved in refereeing.

"The more people are attracted to the game, the better standards will be, and the more everyone can talk about the football."

The focus appeared to shift back on Keys on Tuesday night after new footage of him making inappropriate comments to Jamie Redknapp before a game surfaced on the internet.

Keys is heard seemingly making sexual references during a conversation with Redknapp as they sat in a studio before a broadcast.

Former players Graeme Souness and Ruud Gullit were also present during the clip, which appeared on YouTube.

Meanwhile, England manager Fabio Capello has backed the use of women officials in the game. Capello, who had to deal with women match officials when he worked in his native Italy, said: "I didn't hear what they said, but I hear there is a sexism row. I was at the Wolves game and I played a lot of games with women linesmen. Every time they were focused and they made the correct decisions. The women linesmen are good.''