Keys says sorry after being stood down by Sky Sports
SKY Sports presenter Richard Keys has telephoned assistant referee Sian Massey to apologise for his off-air remarks about her at the weekend, a Professional Game Match Officials spokesman has confirmed.
Microphones picked up comments made by Keys and co-presenter Andy Gray in what they thought was an off-air conversation before the Wolves versus Liverpool match on Saturday, in which they appeared to agree that female officials “don't know the offside rule”, with Keys adding: “I can guarantee you there'll be a big one today. (Liverpool manager) Kenny (Dalglish) will go potty.”
The pair have been reprimanded by Sky Sports for their comments about Massey (pictured) and West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady and were not involved in Sky's coverage of last night's Bolton v Chelsea match as a result.
The PGMO confirmed that Keys had telephoned Massey yesterday. She accepted the apology and is now keen to move on from the matter, and will be an assistant at the npower League Two match between Crewe and Bradford tonight.
The PGMO insist that Massey holds her position on merit and is keen to act as a positive role model for women's refereeing.
David Jones last night stood in for Keys as the presenter of Sky's Monday night football coverage at the Reebok Stadium. Jones was joined by regular Sky pundit Jamie Redknapp and also Eidur Gudjohnsen, now with Stoke having played for both Bolton and Chelsea earlier in his career.
Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis issued a strongly-worded statement yesterday afternoon reprimanding Keys and Gray for the conversation that took place prior to the Liverpool versus Wolves match on Saturday.
Keys and Gray have received widespread condemnation, with England defender Rio Ferdinand among their critics, branding their views “prehistoric”.
Francis said: “I have spoken directly to both Richard Keys and Andy Gray this morning.
“It has been made clear to each of them that their comments were totally unacceptable.
“Those views are inexcusable, entirely inconsistent with our ethos as a business and employer, and will rightly offend many of our customers, our people, and the wider public.
“They are inexcusable from anyone at Sky, regardless of their role or seniority. We have dealt with this matter by taking immediate disciplinary action.”
Manchester United and England centre-back Ferdinand used Twitter to add his voice to the chorus of disapproval by giving his full backing to female officials.
“I'm all for women refereeing in football, discrimination should not happen in our game at all...prehistoric views if u think otherwise..” said Ferdinand.
“Did anyone see the decision the lineswoman made in the Liverpool vs Wolves game...top decision. Judge them like men on their ability to ref.”
Lord Herman Ouseley, chair of Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion campaign, insists the remarks are at odds with football's diversity agenda.
“These comments are unacceptable to the inclusion and diversity agenda of football as a whole.”