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Hope Powell finds positives in Gray and Keys sexism row


Sexism row has helped women's football - Powell

By Jessica Creighton

England Women's coach Hope Powell claims the controversy over sexist remarks by Andy Gray and Richard Keys has helped the women's game.

Comments by the Sky Sports presenters about assistant referee Sian Massey sparked a furore which led to Gray being sacked, while Keys later quit.

"Obviously it's a shame, you don't want to hear those sort of comments," Powell told BBC Sport.

"But to flip it on its head, we've had really good publicity this week."

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

Obviously it's disappointing but it's the view of the minority - it shows people aren't accepting it

England defender Casey Stoney

The pair were initially suspended before further allegations of sexist behaviour led to Gray being sacked by the broadcaster, while Keys subsequently resigned.

Powell added: "Sian earned the right to be there and run that line. More importantly she made some really fantastic calls, which can only be good for women in the game."

Powell comments were echoed by England defender Casey Stoney who said the widespread condemnation of Keys and Gray's behaviour showed attitudes are changing.

"Obviously it's disappointing, but it's the view of the minority. It shows people aren't accepting it. On the flip side, women's sport is benefiting," she said.

Powell and Stoney were speaking at the London launch for the 2011 Fifa Women's World Cup.

The month-long tournament takes place in Germany from 26 June to 17 July and has already sold over 500,000 tickets.

England have been drawn against Japan, New Zealand and Mexico in the group stages.

Although England reached the quarter-finals of the 2007 World Cup and the final of the 2009 European Championships, Powell is wary of expecting too much.

"We will be favourites probably alongside Japan to get out of the group but world football is so different to European football - you're experiencing opposition that perhaps you're not so used to," she said.

"We just need to work hard between now and the first game, work hard in the group stages and hope that we get out of the group."

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see also
Keys resigns over sexism furore
26 Jan 11 |  Football
Sky sacks 'offensive' pundit Gray
25 Jan 11 |  Football
Drury welcomes 'top ref' Massey
26 Jan 11 |  Non League
England women build for World Cup
17 Jan 11 |  Women

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