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15th Aug 2022

Graeme Souness ‘doesn’t regret a word’ of ‘man’s game’ comments that sparked sexism row

Steve Hopkins

Graeme Souness did not pull back from the remarks at all

Graeme Souness has doubled down on his “man’s game” comments saying that he does not regret “a word of it” despite an escalating sexism row.

Appearing on his TalkSport radio slot Monday with Simon Jordan, the former Liverpool manager defended his remarks that ignited an uproar among England women’s players, The Telegraph reported.

Souness made the “man’s game” remark after Chelsea and Tottenham’s 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge turned fiery, which resulted in Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte both receiving red cards at the final whistle.

In his post-match analysis, Souness said: “Referees are letting a lot more go and it allows for a better watch. It’s a man’s game all of a sudden now. I thoroughly enjoyed both games today.”

When asked on Monday whether he regretted making the comment, Souness, replied: “Not a word of it”.

“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 very good watch,” he said.

“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.”

However, hours later he issued a follow-up statement, where he said his comment was only in reference to the games he was watching and that “football is a game for everyone to enjoy”.

During his Sky Sports commentary on Sunday, Karen Carney, who was capped more than 100 times for England, appeared to raise an eyebrow as Souness made the remark.

Carney’s former England team-mate Eniola Aluko tweeted that Souness’ choice of words were “not okay” and Bethany England, who plays for Chelsea and has won 19 caps for the Lionesses, also expressed her displeasure, calling the comment “disgraceful”.

On Monday, Jordan backed Souness, saying 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 ‘hanging 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,” he said.

Jordan said Souness had made an “observation” about a game and suggested reactions to the comment amounted to “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,” he said.

“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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