Monday 24 July 2017

English FA to contact Sunderland over David Moyes 'slap' threat to female reporter

Sunderland manager David Moyes threatened to
Sunderland manager David Moyes threatened to "slap" a female reporter following an interview

Damian Spellman

Football Association chiefs are to contact Sunderland over manager David Moyes' threat to "slap" a female reporter.

The governing body will seek clarification following an exchange between the 53-year-old Scot and BBC Newcastle and Radio Five Live reporter Vicki Sparks, which has been widely condemned since details emerged.

An FA spokesman said: "We are seeking observations from the club."

Moyes, who had already apologised to Sparks in a private telephone call soon after the incident, expressed his remorse in public after video footage of his comments was published by a national newspaper on Monday.

He said: "In the heat of the moment, I made a mistake in my comments to a BBC reporter, which I profoundly regret. I was disappointed with myself for it.

"I subsequently phoned the reporter and apologised, which she accepted. It's not my character, it's not my type, as most people know and once again, I apologise for it."

Sunderland had earlier confirmed that Moyes, who will send his relegation-haunted side into Premier League battle at Leicester on Tuesday evening, had spoken to Sparks and that his apology had been accepted.

A club statement said: "David and the reporter spoke to one another subsequently and the matter was resolved amicably."

Some disgruntled supporters have been calling for Moyes' head in recent weeks and this matter has done little to aid his cause, although he insists owner Ellis Short was already aware of the situation.

Moyes said: "The club has known about it for two weeks, I told Ellis about it two weeks ago. Sometimes these things happen in the heat of the moment."

The BBC too said the situation had been resolved with a spokesman saying: "Mr Moyes has apologised to our reporter and she has accepted his apology."

Sparks has maintained a dignified silence since the footage emerged, although Moyes' remarks have been criticised both within and outside of football.

The Scot appears to have been unhappy when asked by Sparks if Short's presence at the Stadium of Light for the 0-0 draw with Burnley on March 18 meant he was under more pressure with the club once again fighting a battle against relegation.

The video, which was released by the Daily Star, shows Moyes answering, "No, none at all" before the interview drew to a close.

However, thinking he was off camera, he then 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."

Both Moyes and Sparks were laughing during the exchange and the reporter did not make a complaint, although colleagues were unimpressed when they heard what had been said.

However, shadow Sports Minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan called upon the FA to take action via her Twitter account - a demand which was echoed by domestic abuse charity Wearside Women in Need.

Dr Allin-Khan tweeted: "David Moyes cannot get away with these sexist threats - the @FA must take action immediately."

However, asked if he was sexist, Moyes replied: "No. I think people who know me would say that and as I said in the heat of the moment, I used the wrong words."

Clare Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, was stunned when she watched the video.

She said: "I think the FA have to look into it. It is for the FA to set a clear standard about what they think is acceptable. It was dreadful, absolutely appalling.

"This is a woman, in a very small minority of sports journalists, trying to go about her job and being threatened.

"It's the sort of thing you expect down the local pub, not the kind of thing you get from a professional football manager."

Former England striker and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker tweeted: "Moyes incident highlights a tendency for some managers to treat interviewers with utter disdain. Pressured job. Well rewarded. Inexcusable."

There was a call too from the Women in Football group to educate managers.

A spokesperson said: "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."

The row could hardly come at a worse time for Moyes as he attempts to drag Sunderland out of desperate relegation trouble with the club currently eight points adrift of safety with just nine games to play.

He said: "When you are used to winning a lot more games than what you're doing, then when suddenly you're losing, it certainly affects your own life as well as obviously your job.

"We need to try to improve that."

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