Sky suspend presenters Richard Keys & Andy Gray ahead of Chelsea’s match with Bolton following sexist comments about assistant ref Sian Massey

Hosts mocked official off-air during Liverpool game
Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray are to be suspended from hosting Monday night's match between Bolton and Chelsea following sexist remarks made about a female assistant referee.

The duo, who are regarded as Sky's top football presenting team, were unaware that their microphones were on during Liverpool's game with Wolves on Saturday and both made a number of offensive statements regarding the position of women in the game.

Keys stated that assistant referee Sian Massey needed to be taught the offside rule and claimed that the game had "gone mad" and dismissed West Ham vice-chariman Karren Brady's complaints that sexism was still rife in the game.

"See charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Yeah. Do me a favour, love," he said.

Former Everton striker Gray agreed with his long-time partner on the show, claiming that women don't understand the rules of the game and questioned why a female assistant had been appointed in the first place, stating that whoever had done so had "f***** up big".

Sky Sports boss Barney Francis released a statement on Monday revealing that disciplinary action had been taken against the pair.

He 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. As with any employee it would not be right to go into detail on those proceedings.

 “However, they have been clearly warned about their behaviour and reminded of their responsibilities.

“In addition, Richard and Andy will not be involved in any way with tonight’s live Monday Night Football."

A spokesman for Sky apologised on Sunday night after the audio tape hit the front pages and spread over the internet.

A statement read: "The comments reported today are not acceptable. They were not made on air or broadcast in any way but we have spoken to Richard and Andy and told them our views. They have apologised and expressed their regret."

The FA have also released a statement, offering their "wholehearted support" to both male and female officials currently working in English football.

It read: "The FA has made real strides in encouraging both male and female match officials to enter the game at every level, and will continue to offer every encouragement to all officials within the football family to progress to the highest levels possible.

"We are proud to have some of the world's best match officials, both male and female. Overall the number of female referees in England (Levels 1-8) stands at 853 and climbing, and all of our female match officials act as fantastic ambassadors for the game. They have our wholehearted and continuing support."

West Ham vice-chairman Brady has now spoken of her anger upon hearing the comments, telling BBC Radio Five Live: "I just think it's unfair. Here is somebody doing a very important job under very difficult circumstances, who deserves and warrants our respect and here are two people who other people listen to and get their views from not giving her a chance.

"Everyone is entitled to a personal opinion but what really upsets me is the fact that only females in our industry are judged by their gender and that is categorically wrong.

"I don't think any of the comments were anything other than [sexism]. You know 'we'd better go down and tell her the offside rule.' I'm surprised they didn't say 'we'd better go down and tell here to put the kettle on.'

"I was very interested to see what Sky would do about it and as far as I'm concerned they have had a slap on the wrist and that is it.

"I'm genuinely disappointed. It never would have occurred to me that they had those views, whether public or private.

"It almost makes it worse that they're speaking when the microphones are not on as opposed to when they are on, because [they have] never really had the brass neck to say it publicly, they would only say it privately."

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