Friday 15 December 2017

Clarke: Moyes comments distasteful and showed complete lack of respect

Sunderland say they continue to fully support David Moyes
Sunderland say they continue to fully support David Moyes

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke believes Sunderland manager David Moyes' comments to a female reporter were "regrettable, distasteful and showed a complete lack of respect".

Clarke's strong rebuke for Moyes comes on the same day Sunderland issued a statement to say they were backing the Scot but agreed that his suggestion he might slap BBC reporter Vicki Sparks was "wholly unacceptable".

Moyes' exchange with Sparks took place after Sunderland's 0-0 draw with Burnley on March 18 but only came to light on Monday when video footage of their post-match interview emerged.

The FA has already written to the Premier League's bottom side for their views on the incident, which occurred when the 53-year-old manager reacted angrily to a question he did not like - but Clarke's intervention will only heap more pressure on Moyes.

Speaking to reporters on the eve of the UEFA congress in Helsinki, Clarke said: " It was regrettable, it was distasteful and I think it showed a complete lack of respect. And we in the game stand for respect.

"But I don't think it undermines football's desire to be inclusive and respectful. Every now and again, we will have to remind people of the high standards we need to observe in football."

When asked if it was sexist, Clarke said: "It could have been interpreted as such.

"I think it's doubly bad to use such a term to a woman because there is a lot of violence against women in society and terms like that aren't just disrespectful, I think they are bad examples.

"I regret that it happened and I'm sure that David Moyes regrets that it happened."

Moyes told a press conference on Monday that he phoned Sparks soon after the incident to apologise and claimed it was a momentary lapse that was totally out of character.

But Clarke believes it was characteristic of a general lack of respect towards journalists that he has detected across the game.

"We're getting into a trend of people treating journalists doing their jobs badly, and I would like to see that stop," said the former Leicester chairman.

"Respect is respect for everybody. If a person wants to interview you, the least you could do is treat them with a bit of respect.

"I've been seeing that more and more: people storming off and being facetious and insulting. I just think, on that level, it has to stop as well."

He also pointed out that the incident comes at a time when the FA is trying hard to promote the women's game and convince government that it is a diverse and inclusive sport.

The Sunderland club statement said it could not "condone or excuse" Moyes' actions but said the manager did bring the matter to the attention of the club's chief executive Martin Bain himself and apologise to Sparks.

It added that the club treated the issue with the " utmost seriousness from the outset" and it had been dealt with to the satisfaction of the BBC and Sparks.

This, however, has not stopped calls for further action against the former Preston, Everton and Manchester United manager, with shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and Clare Phillipson, director of domestic abuse charity Wearside Women In Need, among those wanting a more serious response.

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