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'Disrespectful and archaic' - Marler slams guest's comments about women refs

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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England prop Joe Marler has hit out at his own radio guest over his response to a question over women’s refereeing, branding the football referee’s remarks as ‘disrespectful and archaic’.

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Former Premiership football referee Mark Clattenburg told TalkSport that women referees may need to decide between having a family and becoming a professional referee after he was asked by Marler for his take on women refereeing male sport in the wake of Sara Cox becoming the first woman to referee a Gallagher Premiership game last week.

The 46-year-old suggested that women referees need to choose between having children and a high-level career as a referee.

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“Football has had a few more [than rugby]. We’ve had an assistant referee in the Premier League – Sian Massey – and we’ve got a woman refereeing in the Football League – Rebecca Welsh. Women are starting to develop in the men’s game.

“If you look at UEFA, a woman refereed the Super Cup final. So, UEFA are getting more and more women.”

“The problem with women, and certainly in refereeing in football is, they have a difficult path where if they get pregnant during the refereeing career, it can stop them a long ways. They have to make this choice, do they want to be pregnant and have children, or do they want to be referees.

“They’ve also got to pass the men’s fitness test. A lot of women struggle with the men’s fitness Test. If you want to be in the men’s game, you’ve got to meet the criteria. If they pass all this and they choose the right path, they should be involved in the men’s game.”

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“You have to make sacrifices. I made some big sacrifices when I was coming through as a ref. Women have to make that sacrifice, because if they want to reach a certain level in refereeing and they want to reach that next level, if you become pregnant, it can cost you two or three years of your life. Once you lose that three years, somebody else takes your position and they move up.

“If you’re going to have babies, you need to do it early.

“If you have them later in your career, you can miss that opportunity. It’s sad because there are some great women [referees].

The former Champions League Final referee said that fitness was also an issue that women had to overcome.

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“When you have a baby you’re out 9, 10 months, then you need another six months to recover from your body. So it’s nearly two years, and to pass that men’s fitness test is very, very demanding.”

Marler, who had posed the original question to Clattenburg, wrote on Twitter following the interview:

“Jesus Christ – Clattenburg’s response to my question about female referees in football on TalkSport this morning was disrespectful and archaic – Sara Cox – leading the way with the way the world should be.”

Many others were not happy with Clattenburg’s take on the matter and chimed in on Twitter. Sports broadcaster Faye Carruthers wrote: “Choose the right path” – wow Mark Clattenburg, what era are you living in?!!! “Pregnancy costs you 2/3 years of your life” This is exactly the type of ridiculous statement that has held us all back for so long and made many of us fearful of getting pregnant.”

Sports reporter Elizabeth Ammon: “Costs? Also 2-3 years. I was back at work within 16 weeks. (My choice). And back on a hockey pitch after 8 weeks. Women are stronger than mr Clattenburg seems to believe.”

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