London (AFP) – Sunderland manager David Moyes said Monday he “deeply regrets” threatening to slap a female BBC reporter.
Earlier on Monday, Premier League strugglers Sunderland had issued an apology on behalf of Moyes for the remarks he made to Vicki Sparks after a goalless Premier League draw at home to Burnley on March 18.
Moyes, speaking at a press conference on Monday, said: “It was in the heat of the moment. I deeply regret the comments I made.
“That’s certainly not the person I am. I’ve accepted the mistake. I spoke to the BBC reporter, who accepted my apology.”
Sparks had asked if Sunderland owner Ellis Short’s presence at the Burnley game meant Moyes was under additional pressure, with the Black Cats yet again involved in a battle against relegation.
Video footage published by the Daily Star newspaper showed Scottish boss Moyes replying, “No, none at all” before the interview concluded.
However, the former Everton and Manchester United manager, believing he was off camera, added: “You were just getting a wee bit naughty at the end there, so just watch yourself. You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman.
“Careful the next time you come in.”
– ‘Inexcusable’ –
Both Moyes and Sparks were seen laughing at this point and the reporter herself did not make a complaint.
Former England striker turned television football broadcaster Gary Lineker was among those who took to Twitter on Monday to criticise Moyes’s behaviour, saying: “Moyes incident highlights a tendency for some managers to treat interviewers with utter disdain. Pressured job. Well rewarded. Inexcusable.”
Meanwhile Britain’s Women in Football, an umbrella group for women working in and around football, including female journalists, responded Monday by urging England’s governing Football Association to help rid the game of sexism by “educating” managers.
“We are deeply disappointed and concerned by the threatening language used by Sunderland manager David Moyes towards BBC reporter, Vicki Sparks,” said a WIF statement. “We are calling on the FA to help educate football managers against this type of behaviour.”
A WIF spokeswoman added: “We are pleased that David Moyes has apologised. No one should be made to feel threatened in the workplace for simply doing their job.
“We hope that the football authorities will work with us to educate football managers and those working within the game to prevent this kind of behaviour.”
Meanwhile the FA said it was “seeking observations” from Sunderland regarding the incident.
A Sunderland spokesman said earlier Monday: “David and the reporter spoke to one another subsequently and the matter was resolved amicably.”
The BBC added the matter had been resolved, with a spokesman saying: “Mr Moyes has apologised to our reporter and she has accepted his apology.”
Sunderland remained bottom of the table and eight points adrift of safety after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Watford. They travel to resurgent champions Leicester on Tuesday.