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Page last updated at 19:23 GMT, Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Richard Keys resigns from Sky after sexist remarks

Richard Keys during his interview on talkSPORT
Keys said a bit of fun had gone wrong. Photo credit: talkSPORT

Richard Keys has resigned as a Sky presenter following his sexist comments about female referee Sian Massey.

Apologising for his remarks, 53-year-old Keys accepted they had been "unacceptable", adding: "I've reached the decision it's time to move on."

Pundit Andy Gray, 55, had already been dismissed by the broadcaster after further allegations of sexist behaviour from the former striker came to light.

"Going forward without Andy would have been almost impossible," Keys stated.

Earlier on Wednesday, Keys suggested "dark forces" had been at work in preventing him from making amends.

"I apologised on the Sunday," the presenter told talkSPORT. "I realised how deeply wrong we were. Having done that I asked 'could we make people aware of the fact we had a conversation and that both parties felt it was right to move on?' I was told 'no'.

"Then 24 hours had passed, by which time the world had gone mad.

"I don't know why I was told 'no' and stopped from telling people what I had done."

Female official Sian Massey
Massey has found herself at the centre of a media storm

The furore began on Saturday when Keys and Gray, believing their microphones were switched off, were recorded before the match between Wolves and Liverpool at Molineux making derogatory comments about Massey's ability to do her job.

Speaking ahead of the Premier League fixture, Keys added: "Somebody better get down there and explain offside to her."

Gray said: "Women don't know the offside rule."

Sky Sports Managing Director Barney Francis said in a statement: "It is disappointing that Richard's career at Sky should end in these circumstances.

"However, Richard recognises that his comments at the weekend were unacceptable and we note that he has made a full and public apology. We thank him for his time in helping make Sky Sports the success it is today."

Gray was dismissed after new footage, which was recorded in December 2010 but only came to light on Monday night, appeared to show the pundit making a suggestive comment towards colleague Charlotte Jackson.

Gray, who reportedly had earned £1.7m a year, issued an apology on Wednesday afternoon and added that he was devastated to have lost his job.

In the original incident Keys - who subsequently telephoned Massey to apologise for the comments - and Gray discussed remarks made by West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady in the Sun newspaper about the levels of sexism in football.

"See charming Karren Brady this morning complaining about sexism? Yeah. Do me a favour love," Keys said.

But Keys added on talkSPORT that he had unsuccessfully tried to contact Brady to apologise to her.

"I tried to ring Karren twice on Sunday night," Keys explained. "There was no answer and there is no answerphone on it. I texted her in case she did not know who was trying to call and asked her to ring me back.

"I tried to ring her to say sorry but she did not take my call."

Keys continued: "Our prehistoric banter is not acceptable in a modern world. We were wrong. It was wrong. It shouldn't have happened."

The comments made by Keys and Gray were criticised by Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand, who described them as "pre-historic" on Twitter.

"I noticed he tweeted and said what we said was pre-historic - but are you saying it does not happen in the Manchester United dressing room?" Keys asked. "My information is that it does."

Meanwhile, Brady insisted Keys had "added insult to injury" by his comments about her on talkSPORT.

Football has come a long way on discrimination - Hough

"Perhaps Richard thought I was too busy making the tea and washing up to take his call but a cursory glance at the weekend's newspapers or television would have made him well aware that I was heavily occupied with the West Ham and Newham Council Olympic Stadium bid.

"This is not about an apology to me, but about an apology to all women. Richard represents views that myself and those who work in the business of football find totally dinosaur."

And the chair of football's equality and inclusion campaign Kick It Out Lord Herman Ouseley suggested the scandal offered the sport an opportunity to move "forward to a more positive era where treating people with dignity and respect is at the forefront".

"It is important, however, that the debate is is kept alive on this and how we ensure humour or banter doesn't descend into offending people," Ouseley stated.

Keys and Gray have been the face of Sky Sports' football coverage since the satellite broadcaster started showing English top-flight matches in 1992.

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see also
Savage backs official in sexism row
26 Jan 11 |  Football
Sky sacks 'offensive' pundit Gray
25 Jan 11 |  Football
Sky discipline pair over comments
24 Jan 11 |  Football
Drury welcomes 'top ref' Massey
26 Jan 11 |  Non League
Ref wants no 'Gray row' backlash
25 Jan 11 |  Scottish League
Is sexism still rife in football?
24 Jan 11 |  Football
Wolves 0-3 Liverpool
22 Jan 11 |  Premier League

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