Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: 2014 World Cup, Andy Gray, Aston Villa, English Premier League, ESPN, Everton, Karren Brady, Liverpool, Richard Keys, Scotland, Sian Massey, Sky Sports, Wendy Toms, West Ham, Wolverhampton
Play-by-play man Richard Keys and color commentator Andy Gray, Sky Sports’ leading soccer voices since the launch of the English Premier League in 1992, have been ousted over sexist remarks that have triggered a debate in Britain over the role of women in what is a male-dominated sport.
Keys resigned under pressure one day after Gray was sacked. Both issued public apologies.
The two thought their microphones were off before a Wolverhampton-Liverpool match telecast when they questioned whether a female assistant referee knew the offside rule. Keys predicted that the lineswoman, Sian Massey, would make a mistake during the game (she actually nailed a critical offside call), and Gray used an expletive in referring to Wendy Toms, the first woman to officiate in the Premier League. Keys piled on by criticising West Ham executive Karren Brady, known for her complaints of sexual discrimation in the soccer media. Then the off-air remarks were leaked–perhaps by someone within Sky–to a Sunday newspaper. [January 26]
Comment: Keys isn’t well known in these parts, but Gray, thanks largely to his work for ESPN as a color man during the 2010 World Cup, is. And Gray was a misogynistic misadventure waiting to happen: a reputation as a playboy backed by a ledger sheet of five children by four women (for the record, two were wives).
Perhaps Gray will be able to resuscitate his career across The Pond, but it’s doubtful he’ll be back for ESPN’s coverage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. And so much the better. While Gray’s resume as a striker, from the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s, was impressive–20 games, seven goals for Scotland and many more goals for Everton, Aston Villa and Wolverhampton–to American viewers he wasn’t much more than that gravelly voiced truck driver with the thick Glaswegian brogue who happened to wander into a broadcast booth.
If Gray will be missed here, it’s because in a world in which English play-by-play men are for some reason routinely paired with Scottish color men, Gray was one of the few Scotsmen whose comments could be deciphered by American ears.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Aston Villa, Bob Bradley, Cape Town, Colombia, Eric Lichaj, Green Point Stadium, Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Mikkel Diskerud, Poland, South Africa, Steve Cherundolo, Thomas Dooley, U.S. National Team, University of North Carolina
A young, experimental U.S. National Team, defeated South Africa, 1-0, on a goal by substitute Juan Agudelo five minutes from time in a friendly at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.
The U.S. starting lineup averaged only 10 1/2 caps, and four of coach Bob Bradley’s halftime substitutes were 20 years old or younger and making their international debut. [November 18]
Comment: No doubt Agudelo will still be celebrating his goal six days hence, when he marks his 18th birthday. After all, the Colombian-born striker, set up brilliantly in the box by the Norwegian-born Mikkel Diskerud, is the youngest scorer in U.S. history, eclipsing Jozy Altidore.
A more impressive birthday boy, however, was U.S. right back Eric Lichaj, who turned 22 the day of the South Africa match. Lichaj, whose parents were born in Poland and reared in America, earned his first cap as a sub in last month’s scoreless draw with Colombia, and he played a key role, along with goalkeeper Brad Guzan, in keeping the American net clean.
Lichaj turned in the kind of performance–smart, strong, creative and utterly cool–that was sorely missing at times on the U.S. back line during the Americans’ last stay in South Africa. All this despite playing the last hour with a yellow card. Best of all, he covered ground like a young Thomas Dooley, popping up deep in the South African end on a regular basis.
It was only one match, but Lichaj (pronounced “LEE-hi”) showed off the qualities that inspired Aston Villa to sign him when he was a University of North Carolina freshman. He’s just now breaking into the Villains’ starting lineup, but with the venerable Steve Cherundolo due to turn 35 when the next World Cup rolls around, it is hoped that Lichaj will be doing same for the U.S. over the next couple of years.