Graeme Souness has doubled down on his “man’s game” comments amid an escalating sexism row, saying he does not regret “a word of it” despite uproar among England women’s players.
The former Liverpool manager launched a staunch defence of his remarks on Sky Sports as he appeared on his TalkSport radio slot with Simon Jordan, who dismissed the furore as “cobblers”.
Souness had prompted a backlash from the likes of Eniola Aluko and Bethany England after declaring that fiery scenes between Chelsea and Tottenham showed “it’s a man’s game all of a sudden now”.
When asked on whether he regretted making the comment, Souness said: “Not a word of it”.
He added: “I’ve been saying for years, the referees have such a major part to play in the success of the Premier League because ... we were fast becoming like other leagues where the ref was blowing the whistle all the time, the game didn’t flow, and it just wasn’t a good watch.
“Our game has always been unique. It’s always been more meaty, more in your face, more intense, and we’ve got away from that. And I think yesterday ... I said, ‘We’ve got our game back’. You know that is the kind of football I remember playing and our league will be better for it. We are back and the directive to the referees is long overdue. We’ve got our game back.
“I enjoyed two games of football yesterday where men were playing men, and they got about themselves at times. They were falling out with each other.”
During his punditry the previous evening on Sky, Karen Carney, who was capped more than 100 times for England, appeared to raise an eyebrow as she sat alongside him as he made the remarks. Carney’s former England team-mate Aluko then tweeted that his choice of words were “not okay”. Jordan, however, said the reaction by England players was “an absolute load of nonsense”.
He said: “A man describing a game featuring men can’t apparently use the word men or men in conjunction with a game that featured solely men? I mean, are we losing context here? Are we getting into a situation where we should be saying, ‘Hang on a second here – the Women’s Super League, that’s bias’. Are we getting into that territory because of that nature? It’s ridiculous.
“Graeme made an observation about a game and made it in conjunction with what he’s watching. And if someone wants to turn it into something more, they do a particular cause of equality an injustice.
“It’s lightweight activism. I’m seeing England football players from the England women’s team making a song out of this and I’m so disappointed by it because I think it’s completely unnecessary.
“If you want to take anybody’s conversation out of context, misrepresent it back and turn it into something that it wasn’t, then that’s for you to do, but it doesn’t mean that people should be castigated.
“It doesn’t mean that you need presenters on the show to say, ‘Oh, it’s a woman’s game as well’. You don’t need it. You really don’t need it. I don’t think Graeme’s a dinosaur. I don’t think he said anything misogynistic. I don’t think there was anything wrong with what he said. I’ve got a 14-year-old daughter. I want her to compete in the world. And I want it to be given the best opportunities. What a load of old cobblers.”
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