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Andy Gray - red card for sexism?

Charlie Butterworth speaks up for the former Everton player who spoke in private

Published on January 26th 2011.

Andy Gray - red card for sexism?

EX EVERTON player Andy Gray and Richard Keys made jokes about Sian Massey, a woman linesman (aka assistant referee) not being able to understand the offside rule on Sky Sports over the weekend.

They did it in the tired formulaic way men speak about ‘women drivers’.

And women talk about ‘man flu’.

Some people want Keys and Gray hanged for sexism. Or rather fired (see update at the end of this). And then hanged.

Society’s official whingers have decided to jump on the bandwagon of comment and hijack it. Mostly these represent spokespeople of publicly funded groups and organisations, who are appalled about a couple of silly old buggers having a bit of banter. They are annoyed because they get paid to be annoyed.

But come on.

Gray and Keys are old school at best. In fact the whole of football is old school. But better that we allow them the odd daft moment rather than we monitor private conversations and broadcast them, as happened here - something akin to the phone tapping scandal submerging the News of the World.

Massey answered the old buffers in the best way possible by performing her duties perfectly. Maybe she should be given a match to referee rather than run the line. That would show Gray and Keys and then subject her to one of last legally allowable areas of discrimination: that of fans and pundits against referees.

You have to also wonder how perfect the Gray and Keys complainers are?

Do the men who have publically worried about Gray and Keys always have pure thoughts? Do they never see a pretty woman and judge her first by her body, do they never do the ‘women driver’ reaction when a woman pulls out in front of them?

And do the women who’ve complained, never speak out of turn, never generalise about men being oafs and idiots, never repeat in their head generalised clichés about ‘multi-tasking’?

Have these pure of thought people never said anything to friends which if it had been sneakily recorded and broadcast they would have regretted?

We have a public life and private one. Legislation is there to protect relations between individuals in the public sphere, if it is used to regulate private thought then we’re in trouble. Or used to monitor every type of private utterance then we are going down an authoritarian and an oppressive route. Now that would be offside.

What Gray and Keys said was wrong but they are the dinosaurs and Massey is the future. At a recent game in which she was officiating she was subject to fan chants of 'Put the kettle on'. That behaviour is boorish, pub banter of the type Gray and Keys came up with. Dull, but not vicious, almost done as male default stupidity. We can't prosecute all those suspected of suspect pub chatter or dubious thoughts. There'd be no end to it.

Update: Andy Gray was sacked tonight (Tues) after it emerged more questionable remarks had been made relating to females, specifically one to do with a microphone pack and some trousers.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousJanuary 24th 2011.

You can't sack someone for something they say in private. These women need to lighten up.

Roy of the RoversJanuary 24th 2011.

Oh yes you can - and it wasn't in private.

Look at what happened to Gordon Brown!

These people are phenomenally well paid for the undemanding "work" they do. The least they can do is measure up to the job. There are plenty who could do better languishing on the dole.

As for "football being old school" - no it's not! It was in the days when players behaved like gentlemen and were paid £15 per week.

Suz PectballotJanuary 24th 2011.

As there are no actual buttons for us to vote with yet 'No' has a sizeable lead, this survey smells very fishy indeed!

Editorial personJanuary 24th 2011.

The vote button is miles down the home page. keep going through the lights at news and comment, and then health and beauty.Turn slightly right at news 250.
Yes, I know, I know.

Alf GarnettJanuary 24th 2011.

So I suppose had the linesman whose ability has been groundlessly criticised been black, or Asian, or gay, or Irish, or Muslim, or Jewish, etc., etc. the comments would have been equally inoffensive to Mr. Butterworth?

I know the Tory b******* are back in power but come on!

AnonymousJanuary 25th 2011.

Don't these buffoons Gray & Keys understand that they are the reps. of Sky TV. They get paid fabulous money and think they are untouchable. Gray ran away from being a manager (at Everton) because he could pick up soft money with his stupid comments on a soccer table. Welcome to the real World, Richard/.Andy, now go and start trying to get after dinner speeches prepared

gingermopJanuary 25th 2011.

As a woman I wasn't so much offended as disappointed by the comments. Yes we all say unguarded things, but these are such tired observations. If they had been said in jest I would be less inclined to respond here, but in fact they sounded genuinely aggrieved that a woman was considered up to the job of asst referee -- more a rant than a poorly considered (especially since they were caught!) joke.

New SchoolJanuary 25th 2011.

"Old school" meaning what? Slums, rickets, children down mines and up chimneys, slave trade, pogroms, etc. etc.?

Veronica KnickersJanuary 26th 2011.

He's proved himself to be a dirty old man, unfortunately.

Auntie NazileagueJanuary 26th 2011.

Don't be ageist!

I heard some under-aged chump on the BBC saying that “this sort of thing might have been acceptable in the 1980s” but it wasn´t.

This sort of thing was highly suspect in the 1970s and those comedians who still thought it was were marginalised by the popular explosion of new ‘alternative´ comedians who came in about the same time as punk music.

How old does Andy Gray have to be to have his age as an excuse? He´s supposed to be a journalist with his finger on the pulse, yet he has failed to notice that times were changing more than thirty years ago.

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