"by Rob Sharp
Sunday November 12, 2006
Gender relations in football took a dramatic step backwards yesterday after one of the country's top young managers attacked the presence of female officials in the game. Luton's Mike Newell launched an astonishing criticism of assistant referee Amy Rayner, who he claimed made the wrong decision over a penalty in a match involving his team yesterday. Rayner is in her second year as an official and is one of the country's most successful female referees.
'She should not be here,' Newell said. 'I know that sounds sexist, but I am sexist, so I am not going to be anything other than that. We have a problem in this country with political correctness, and bringing women into the game is not the way to improve refereeing and officialdom.'
He added: 'It is absolutely beyond belief. When do we reach a stage when all officials are women, then we are in trouble. It is bad enough with the incapable referees and linesmen we have, but if you start bringing in women, you have big problems. It is tokenism, for the politically correct idiots.'
Newell caused controversy earlier this year when his allegation that he had been offered bungs by agents saw him branded the 'whistleblower' for Lord Stevens's bungs inquiry and a Panorama documentary. His latest outburst came after his team's 3-2 home defeat by Queen's Park Rangers.
But Rachel Yankey, who plays for Arsenal Ladies and is widely hailed as England's top striker, hit back at Newell's comments. 'There are bad refs and good refs,' she said.
'It doesn't matter if they're male or female. To be a ref in the Championship you are qualified to that level and it shouldn't matter if you're male or female, black or white. I agree the quality of refs needs to be stepped up, but that's across the board.'
QPR defender Marcus Bignot, who used to manage Birmingham City Ladies, also attacked Newell for his remarks. Newell believed his team should have been given a penalty when Carlos Edwards tangled with Bignot, but Bignot insisted Rayner and referee Andy D'Urso had made the right decision. Bignot said: 'Comments like those will stop female officials from trying to make their way in the game.
'Amy Rayner is a role model. What would he have said if it had been a male referee making that decision?'"
of course, the key point of this article is that newell's team were beaten by qpr :-)