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Andy Gray and Richard Keys Suspension Doesn’t Go Far Enough

andy gray richard keys Andy Gray and Richard Keys Suspension Doesnt Go Far Enough

Sky Sports announced this morning that they have suspended presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray due to the sexist comments they made about female assistant referee Sian Massey and West Ham United vice-chairwoman Karren Brady.

“I have spoken directly to both Richard Keys and Andy Gray this morning,” said Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports. “It has been made clear to each of them that their comments were totally unacceptable. Those views are 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.”

As a result, Gray and Keys will miss today’s match between Bolton Wanderers and Chelsea, televised on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.

However, I feel that Sky Sports has let Gray and Keys off lightly. Sky conveniently says that “it would not be right to go into detail on those proceedings.” Is that because it’s none of our business or is it because they received a smack on the wrist because they know how seemingly vital Keys and Gray are to the Sky Sports brand? The two men are the most high profile men in the coverage of English football by Sky Sports. Instead of issuing an apology through the written word by means of a Sky Sports executive, Gray and Keys should have been forced into giving a public apology in front of cameras. Instead, all we get is this: ”The comments are not acceptable. They were not made on air but we have spoken to Richard and Andy and told them our views and they have apologised and expressed their regret.”

By staying out of the public’s eye, Sky hopes that the story will die down and that Keys and Gray can resume their normal duties. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the two men said what they said. And it most probably doesn’t change their opinion. Keys and Gray still probably believe the sexist remarks they said that were exposed to the public.

Plus, depending on what type of disciplinary action Sky took against Gray and Keys, the duo may have ended up having a smack on a wrist and an extra day off. By not being transparent, we can only imagine that the disciplinary action Sky took was insignificant. Of course, we’ll never know for sure but perception is everything.

Some argue that Keys and Gray should have been sacked for the comments they made. In this day and age, there should be no room for presenters who exhibit these sexist beliefs. Sky Sports should have come down harder on the duo and either sacked them or suspended them longer than one token match on a Monday night. By giving them such a light “sentence,” what does that say to all of the female soccer supporters out there and to the men who found what Gray and Keys said disgusting? To me, it sounds more like Sky is trying to sweep the incident under the carpet by making a public statement, giving them a smack on the wrist and trying to move on.

No matter what happens, Gray and Keys have gone down significantly in my estimation and this past weekend’s incident will long be remembered by many as an ugly side to the sport where the macho culture still rules. It’s time for Sky Sports and football to grow up.

What do you think? Did Sky Sports take appropriate action or should they have come down harder on the duo? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

UPDATE: A newly released video of Richard Keys shows the Sky Sports presenter making more sexist remarks. The video can be seen here.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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48 Responses to Andy Gray and Richard Keys Suspension Doesn’t Go Far Enough

  1. DP3 says:

    I think in this day and age people are way too quick to call on people to get fired/sacked. It was an unfortunate situation where a private conversation was transmitted on air and now Sky has to face the consequences. Instead of firing them and having them get picked up by another channel a week later, hit them where it hurts and fine them, dock their pay etc. I love how sanctimonious people are getting on this topic. As if when you’re with a group of friends all the conversation is proper and inoffensive.

  2. Stacy Richardson says:

    I think of the recent firing of ESPN’s Ron Franklin. He had a history of making demeaning remarks to women, and had been disciplined for it on a previous occasion.

    In his transgressions, Franklin insulted women in person; not the same thing as happened with the Sky guys.

    I don’t know the history of Richard Keys and Andy Gray with respect to their treatment of women. But considering the comments were made off-air, if these men had no previous track record of insulting behavior or speech toward women, then I think the response by Sky was appropriate, or maybe a little too much.

    I also think people have a right to express their opinions privately, even if I consider their ideas unseemly; I consider this incident to have been “semi-private.”

    • The Gaffer says:

      Here’s a clip of Gray and Keys laughing hysterically during Sky’s coverage of the 1998 Women’s FA Cup Final: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ienZj9onV0Q

      If the same type of goal had happened in a men’s match, I don’t think they would be laughing as much.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Simon Burke says:

        To be honest i laughed hysterically at that and most men would. Its not the women, its the football – horrible defending, a dreadful volley into the goal etc… its funny stuff.

        As for Keys/Gray. I think there is an attitude of “Get Sky” in all of this and I am delighted. Keys is a smug fool and got caught only last year over the microphone slagging off Walcott in a really pompous manner. Gray has done one too many “Take a Bow son”s and I am pleased to see him taken down a notch or 3.

        Sackings are wrong – luckily for them they didnt go too far in their language, at least in that clip. They deserve the good dressing down the nation is giving them and I think they have to do an on-air apology. They may not want to but its the minimum for me.

        The pair of them are morons.

      • Sri says:

        In all fairness.. i couldn’t stop laughing either..that has nothing to do with them being women..its purely hilarious

      • warren says:

        Seriously, Gaffer, that game was entirely, and appropriately, laughable. Well, at least 4 of the 5 goals were. If anything, if that was a men’s match I think they’d be laughing even harder.

        • stephen says:

          That video was hilarious. But they should be expected to hold their tongues in such a case.

          What was said recently was a private conversation aired publicly. Being a jerk with your friends shouldn’t be a sackable offense. How many of us would be red-faced if what we said in private about someone suddenly was public and treated as ‘official’.

      • Rich says:

        Gaffer,

        Mate, you shot yourself in the foot with that clip! That WAS hilarious! Did you conveniently NOT watch the diabolical game of football on display? If you weren’t laughing then there’s something wrong with you. When the Croydon keeper smacked into the post I almost went wee wee in my pants!

        Sexist? Give me a break! The women played rubbish. Open your eyes and see why they’re really laughing.

        • The Gaffer says:

          Rich, commentator Stacy Richardson asked whether Gray and Keys had a track record of demeaning women. I provided the YouTube clip as an example. I’m not saying it’s sexist, but their persistent laughter is, I believe, condescending to women.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

          • Dave C says:

            Gaffer, come on, you know you’re fighting a losing battle on this one. That Youtube video clip was hilarious. It wasn’t demeaning to women – it was just hilariously ill-executed football that they quite rightly laughed at.

            In the men’s game, if some one fires into row Z, or nearly hits the corner flag, or falls flat on their face while trying something spectacular, Gray laughs at them all the time. It’s no different for women.

            I mean come on, look at that video – the miskicked volley that loops over the keeper (because she took her eye off the ball) and went over the line??? The woman who sliced an air-shot from 2 yards after the keeper fumbled an easy freekick, and then celebrated like a champ when someone else spared her blushes by nodding it in??? That’s hilarious stuff.

            To say it shows a history of demeaning women is like digging up some old footage of them laughing at Peter Crouch’s various miskicks, air-shots, awkward falls and silly dances, and saying that it demonstrates a lack of respect for tall people.

          • Dave C says:

            Also, I know this is kind of stirring up a different debate, but I think games like the one in that youtube clip are a good example of why I wish they didn’t televise women’s games until the women’s game has developed a stronger culture of competence. It’s just embarrassing and does their cause no good. I also think the goals (and field) should be made smaller, since women are shorter than men. I never watch women’s football for anything other than cheap laughs, because even at the highest level, it’s nothing more than a comedy of errors.

            And to be honest, I think it stirs up some understandable jealousy that those ladies get to play on a perfect pitch in a nice (albeit empty) stadium, whereas most guys have more technical skills than that at the age of 12, yet have to play on sloppy muddy windswept bogs and can never dream of playing in a stadium like that (and on TV no less).

  3. This One Guy in Detroit says:

    By staying out of the public’s eye, Sky hopes that the story will die down and that Keys and Gray can resume their normal duties. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the two men said what they said. And it most probably doesn’t change their opinion. Keys and Gray still probably believe the sexist remarks they said that were exposed to the public.

    Sorry, but the bolded lines strike me as quite dangerous territory, Gaffer. It’s genuine thought-policing. It’s almost religious in nature — it’s the sort of perish-the-thought punishment meted out to heretics in Ye Olden Dayes.

    Why are you worried about what they “believe”? Why does it matter? Think for a moment WHY we have taboos on what should be said publicly. It’s about having dangerous ideas being disseminated to others — not about what’s inside another human’s head.

    Which leads to this:

    In this day and age, there should be no room for presenters who exhibit these sexist beliefs.

    That’s the thing about this situation: They didn’t “exhibit” anything here. They had a private conversation. The exhibiting was done by the newspaper that published the private conversation. In the strictest sense, it’s the newspaper that’s “guilty” of spreading sexist ideas.

    Everyone needs to step back for a moment for a birds-eye view, and contemplate WHY we have social taboos on racist and sexist public speech in the first place. There’s a reason for it: to prevent society from slipping into a mode where discrimination by race and gender is acceptable. The taboos are intended to prevent an atmosphere that would lead to such discrimination. That’s what it’s for.

    It’s not for marking certain people as “evil” or “bad.” It has a simple, practical purpose. That’s all. And given that Keys and Gray DIDN’T do anything to foment such an atmosphere — their conversation was private — we really need to think about what we’re doing here by calling for their heads.

    Dislike them if you want. Declare them cavemen, or obnoxious, or whatever you wish. But if you’re calling for their heads, you really might want to pause and think about the sort of path you’re trying to send society down. It’s not a pretty one, and it won’t have a happy ending.

    • The Gaffer says:

      …”you really might want to pause and think about the sort of path you’re trying to send society down.” What would be so bad about a society which featured TV presenters that supported women rather than made sexist remarks about them?

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • Scott Alexander says:

        There is nothing wrong with a society in which TV presenters support women rather than make sexist remarks about them. I’m not seeing that anyone is arguing against that. It seems to me that were are discussing what are appropriate and inappropriate tools.

        Additionally, you note that:

        However, I feel that Sky Sports has let Gray and Keys off lightly. Sky conveniently says that “it would not be right to go into detail on those proceedings.” Is that because it’s none of our business or is it because they received a smack on the wrist because they know how seemingly vital Keys and Gray are to the Sky Sports brand?

        That seems like an oversimplification. You as a consumer (as well as a host of other relevant identities like being a unit of the press) have rights to decry Sky, Gray, Keys, and anyone else for that matter. You can lead a boycott of their goods and services, write articles, et cetera.
        But Sky has rights and obligations as well. And Sky is a private company. I’m not overly familiar with UK labor privacy rights, but in the US even non-profit public trusts, that demand the most transparency, generally go into closed sessions when they are discussing employment issues with employees or labor negotiators. In a country where privacy rights are generally thought to be much stronger, it seems prudent and reasonable that they wouldn’t discuss those proceedings.

      • Dave C says:

        I think he’s pretty obviously referring to the type of society that polices what thoughts people can express, even in private situations.

      • This One Guy in Detroit says:

        “What would be so bad about a society which featured TV presenters that supported women rather than made sexist remarks about them?”

        Nothing. Nothing would be bad about such a society. Indeed, it is the society we largely have.

        And Andy Gray is a part of it. As a TV presenter, he supports women — in this very game, he applauded the onside decision of the female assistant referee.

        As a man in private, he said something else. And because he dared to think these thoughts, and used his mouth muscles to utter them to another human being, you’re ready to crucify him.

        Why? I’m asking sincerely, because it’s a question I’m genuinely curious about: Why do you want him punished? What harm was done by Andy Gray uttering these thoughts in private, with no intention of their being communicated publicly? Since he’s the one you want to punish, tell me: What exactly did he do wrong?

        I honestly can’t figure out what the answer to that could be except: “He had the wrong thoughts.”

        And if we’re at the point where we’re punishing people because they have the “wrong thoughts,” then yes — we’re in a very dangerous place. That’s a lot more frightening to me than the private thoughts of some backward oaf like Andy Gray.

  4. John says:

    DP3: The problem is that the comments regarded the sport. I don’t want presenters who think women don’t belong on the pitch, which their comments indicated. In addition, they were incredibly dismissive when first reached for comment, and have yet to do anything to publicly walk back their troublesome comments.

    Given their stature at Sky, I had no illusions about their getting sacked, but they need to publicly apologize, grant the interviews they first denied regarding these comments, and seek counseling for their sexist nature. Footy may be a man’s game, but I see women in the stands every week and I see them working the sidelines on the pitch now as well. Keys and Gray better acknowledge this and work to rectify it, or else they’ll find themselves incredibly dated in a new football world.

    • Dave C says:

      Who cares what their private conversations involve, just because their comments regard the support on which they commentate. I’m sure a lot of commentators probably express private views that show they support Man U or Liverpool, or have a man-crush on David Beckham, or whatever, all of which could effect their air of impartiality. But as long as they do a decent job when the microphone is on (and they’re actually ON AIR), I don’t care what they say or do in private, and I don’t see why anyone else should.

  5. Feehily says:

    If they had said it on air, yeah alright sort them out. But what they said is no different to what you’d talk about down the pub.
    It’s clear to me that Andy Gray was joking and Karen Brady, she’s always banging on about sexism, but that’s what happens when you are in a profession so dominated by men for so many years.
    And the video of them laughing, first of all, it was funny. Back in the day women’s football was a whole lot funnier than it is now. It’s because, I mean come on look at it?! In what way is it not funny? The poor women had to wear such unflattering baggy shirts too! And then the cup fell to bits at the end, all funny! Not once did either of them make a joke on camera about it and I’m impressed they held back as long as they did.

    But whatever they are both a pair of knobs and I don’t get Sky over here so what do I care?

    • Joe says:

      “But what they said is no different to what you’d talk about down the pub.”

      I’d like to know what pubs you’re going to so I can be sure to stay away. I like to surround myself with open-minded people instead of sexist assholes, but apparently that’s just me.

      • Dave C says:

        Obviously you’re just too intelligent, rational, serious and sensitive, so it’s probably best if you just stay away from pubs, and stay at home reading Proust.

    • Feehily says:

      Having now actually heard the audio, they are a pair of pricks and I will not even try to defend them by calling it banter!
      But the older video with the women’s football is still funny!!

  6. warren says:

    I would half agree with your final sentiment – Andy Gray has gone down in my estimation too. Richard Keys didn’t really have very far to fall…

  7. Harry Tuttle says:

    The first rule of broadcast journalism: treat every mic like it was live.

    Even if it hadn’t been a hot mic, every person in the broadcast and control rooms could hear them. Dozens of people. At least. Many of them female I’d hazard to guess. That’s not even close to “private”.

    Personally, I’d give these guys the sack in a heartbeat. Even if you put the rank sexism of their statements aside, what they said was nasty mean and monumentally stupid. I certainly will never trust what they say because I now know they’re a pretty damned dim couple of numpty assholes.

  8. Guy says:

    Man puts foot in mouth. Off with his head!

    Being a moron is not a capital offense. I have no time for people like Gray and Keys, but for heaven’s sake let’s not get hysterical over their transgression. They have been disciplined by their employer as they saw fit. Why is that not enough? This story deserves to die ASAP. That’s how important it is.

  9. Terry says:

    It’s rather inane to demand transparency from a private company. Will you pay their legal fees for violating their employees’ privacy? I think not. Even semi-public entities do not do this. Only governments where it is a matter of public record. Focus on the public apology ad opposed to details of the suspension.

  10. Jordan says:

    Could’ve sworn this article was written by a woman.

  11. Cody says:

    Gray, as you already know, is a former Evertonian. Haven’t their fans had enough grief this year? Leave the man alone.

  12. Rich says:

    What a load of old crap! This whole “they should be punished” stuff has got to stop. I bet in their heart of hearts they think it’s fine that women be involved with football. I’d love to see a transcript of your conversations with your closest friends. I’m sure it gets a lot worse that what they mistakenly said in front of the microphones. Why can’t so many people take what they said with a pinch of salt and realize they meant it in jest!? Is it because the majority of people are really thin skinned sad prats in today’s day and age? Do these moaners and complainers feel so small and insignificant that even the slightest slur towards the opposite sex, people with different skin colours, or those clearly from different areas of the country or other countries in general because they possess an accent, enrages them to the point of them thinking that they can get one over them and to teach these people a lesson? Well, I hope it makes you feel better about yourself to stick it other people just because they said what they said.

    I could go on. But I won’t. Argh….

  13. Carolyn says:

    To those who say that this was a private conversation should realize that both men were “at work” and therefore it is entirely appropriate for the employer to take action. As for their suspension I’m not sure that it is enough. The fact that Sky did not ask both men to apologise to the women they said disparaging remarks about is very unfortunate and says a whole lot about Sky itself.

    Had this incident happened in this country I’m sure both men would have received a harsher punishment instead of a single game suspension.

    • warren says:

      I’m not at all sure an apology from Gray and Keys would be appropriate. I mean, what could they say? All I can think is that they’re sorry that the conversation has been released.

      If what they said expresses their real views, then there really is nothing they can apologise about, is there? I mean, if the apology is to be whole-hearted and honest.

      I would argue that Sky, as the employer, are the ones to make the apology as the views expressed by these employees don’t reflect those of the corporation (I’m sure)…

      If this had happened in the US (I assume you mean) then I imagine they would be in the middle of a law suit right now for multiple millions.

  14. john says:

    I think she sucks as a lineswoman also. the only thing that was wrong about this is that the microphones were left on. They should talk about that stuff in private while not working. But i think their comment was correct, other than the part about a letting a woman have that job. Im sure some woman could do the job fine, just not all woman or men for that matter. And its not right to discuss their punishment with everyone. Its not that they are trying to hide their so called slap on the wrist. That how disciplinary should be, in private.

  15. john says:

    It is a load of crap. Everyone is so easily offended now days and always wants an example made out of everyone. Give me a break.

  16. Jason says:

    John, how can you say “she sucks as a lineswoman” when her performance this weekend was better than most of the men who officiated this weekend. You should back up your claim with specifics. She made the correct call on Liverpool’s first goal and despite all the abuse for the rest of the game from Wolves fans she wasn’t influenced by it.

    Based on her performance this weekend I think she has a future as a soccer official. The EPL should be looking to appoint the best officials regardless of sex.

  17. Martin J. says:

    I’m glad I live in a country (USA) where people are punished more severely for this type of offense. There is no room for this type of backward thinking. Women are just as capable as men in officiating a soccer game.

    I agree with Carolyn that it’s surprising that Sky did not ask both men to publically apologize for their remarks.

  18. kevin says:

    Ron Atkinson lost his job for making off-hand racist remarks while thinking he was off air. What’s the difference between racism and sexism?

    • Dave C says:

      What’s the difference between racism and sexism?

      Hmm…has a casual belief that women can’t understand the off-side rule EVER led directly or indirectly to anyone being shot, lynched, gassed or burnt alive?

  19. kevin says:

    Oh dear, you’ve taken that too far. Unless if course you think big Ron was that way inclined. Tut tut!

    • Dave C says:

      I assume that reply is at me…if so:

      No I don’t think Ron Atkinson is inclined to commit acts of murder, vigilante justice or genocide on anyone. But what I meant is that it’s a lot more offensive to make seemingly light-hearted stereoptypes of racial groups because that kind of thinking has historically led down that road: people think it’s ok to make jokes about certain groups, then people start to think it’s ok to treat certain groups differently, then they start treating them as 2nd class humans, then not really humans at all….and then eventually it’s death camps and/or lynch mobs.

      On the other hand, I don’t think sexual stereotyping (especially regarding women knowing the offside rule) has ever really led to anything like that kind of oppression.

  20. Lou says:

    Dave C
    I think your commthere’re right.There is no difference between sexism and racism in my book. Both are forms of discrimination, and both are used with intent to belittle others.
    At the end of the day, Siân Massey knew she was going to be in the limelight on Saturday, and knew every decision she made would be scrutinized by men, therefore, she was incredibly brave to do it, and she should be applauded for that alone. And then the one big call, she waves Offside, and she got it right!!….She’s got more balls than a certain two Sky Presenters!
    Andy Gray and Richard Keys should be ashamed of themselves and feel pretty stupid with it, private or not, they are still cavemen, and have lost alot of respect. Therefore, they should go!!!!

  21. Gary Seaforth says:

    I find the comments made by keys and especially Andy Gray absolutely disgusting and a slight on a woman official who got the decision absolutely right should not be tolerated by Sky

    I will be cancelling my subscription if Gray is allowed to continue and that is the opinion of most of my friends too.
    Skys loss

    a big mouthed ignorant commentator

    get rid of him now

    Gary

  22. Lou says:

    *Didnt wave offside!

  23. Lou says:

    It has taken something away from my Soccer Saturdays, as probably many others, but I doubt it Gary!

  24. Smokey Bacon says:

    I think FSC just found their new hosts for Fox Football Fone-in.

  25. Will Garton says:

    It is not the first time they have made disparaging remarks.
    And how humiliating for the female tv presentor, Gray is sick………………….Sack them they are bad news for football

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