It’s not often that the ‘football world’ clashes with the ‘real world’, but when it does, it can be a real s***-storm. The latest man in the spotlight is David Moyes, manager of Sunderland AFC, and his abhorrent comments to the BBC’s sport reporter, Vicki Sparks. After being asked about his managerial prospects following his team’s 0-0 draw to Burnley, he was filmed saying to her:
“It was getting a wee bit naughty at the end there so just watch yourself. You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman. Careful the next time you come in.”
This has sparked outrage, with many rightfully calling for Moyes to lose his job. In an average work setting, there would be no question as to a manager being sacked for that. His comments were aggressive, inappropriate, and yes, they were also sexist. Moyes made a point of clarifying that “even though you’re a woman” he might slap her. He mentioned her gender to accentuate the threat. He would not have needed to say, “even though you’re a man” if he was threatening the same to a male reporter. His words were selected to intimidate Sparks.
There are also many people who think this is all being blown out of proportion. Moyes has apologised – what is the use in dragging out the conflict? I cannot agree with that. Vicki Sparks laughed off the comment at the time, displaying true professionalism. She has accepted his apology now. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong and an apology does nothing to stop it happening again.
Sexism aside, no sport professional should think they have the right to threaten a reporter. Moyes’ comments may have been a joke, or in the heat of the moment, or whatever other excuse he has given since this story came to light, but the fact remains that he was in the wrong. He should be punished. A fine or a <insert number here> match ban will do nothing to address the deeper issues.
As with the case of Sam Allardyce’s resignation from the England managerial role in September, the FA does all it can to protect its’ own. Allardyce was in the wrong, got caught out, and was allowed to “mutually part ways” with the FA, with no further investigation. At the very least, Moyes should also lose his job. If his comments were in fact a joke, is it truly funny to joke about hitting another person when they say something you don’t like? And if the comments were in the heat of the moment, that’s telling of the kind of person Moyes is: a man who clearly cannot handle any pressure, and lashes out. Is that the kind of man who deserves any type of managerial role?
Yes, his job might be tough, and Moyes was under pressure to retain his place at Sunderland, but is that the reporter’s fault? A reporter, who, like Moyes, is just trying to do her job?
And let’s face it, even if Moyes does get sacked, chances are he’ll land another job. He won’t be ‘unemployed’ in the traditional sense of the word. But, for Vicki Sparks, her career is not as stable. Journalists deserve more protection. Here is a chance to deliver it.