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Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Friday, 28 January 2011

Sian Massey withdrawn from refereeing non-league match

Sian Massey
Massey was an assistant referee for Liverpool's 3-0 win at Wolves

Sian Massey, the referee at the centre of the Sky Sports sexism row, has been withdrawn from duty at the weekend due to the intense media attention on her.

The 25-year-old was due to referee the Blue Square Bet North match between Corby Town and Eastwood on Saturday.

But the Professional Game Match Officials group decided to pull her off the game after consulting with Massey.

"The focus needs to be on the match not the officials," a PGMO spokesman said. "It would be unfair on the clubs."

Massey was the subject of sexist comments made by Sky football analyst Andy Gray and presenter Richard Keys.

The duo suggested Massey and other female referees "did not know the offside rule" in the build-up to Saturday's contest between Wolves and Liverpool.

Gray has since been sacked after further allegations of sexist behaviour came to light, while Keys has resigned.

Massey had been scheduled to be an official at Crewe versus Bradford in League Two on Tuesday night, but was withdrawn by the authorities in order to ensure that the controversy surrounding her did not overshadow the game.

Sexism row has helped women's football - England manager Hope Powell

Corby had reported a huge demand for access by television crews after Massey was put in charge of the game.

Earlier in the week, Corby boss Graham Drury had paid tribute to Massey.

"She stamps her authority on the game and she interacts with players well," he said. "We've got a top referee for this game.

"The sex of the person in the middle doesn't affect me. They've got big decisions to make and everyone makes mistakes.

"I don't mind whether it's a man, woman, or even an elephant refereeing a game of mine - as long as they do it properly.

"We've had Sian before and she had a fantastic game."

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see also
Powell finds sexism row positives
28 Jan 11 |  Women
Keys resigns over sexism furore
26 Jan 11 |  Football
Sky sacks 'offensive' pundit Gray
25 Jan 11 |  Football

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