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.