Football: Premier League chief 'contrite' over sexist emails

Premier League's Chief Executive Richard Scudamore (above) leaving London's High Court on July 13, 2007. Mr Scudamore spoke of his sincere contrition after it was announced on Monday he wouldn’t lose his job for sending sexist emails. -- FILE PHOTO
Premier League's Chief Executive Richard Scudamore (above) leaving London's High Court on July 13, 2007. Mr Scudamore spoke of his sincere contrition after it was announced on Monday he wouldn’t lose his job for sending sexist emails. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP 

LONDON (AFP) - English Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore spoke of his “sincere contrition” after it was announced on Monday he wouldn’t lose his job for sending sexist emails.

Last week Britain’s Sunday Mirror newspaper published leaked private emails sent by Mr Scudamore to a lawyer friend which contained crude sexual innuendos.

Since then Mr Scudamore, 54, had faced a torrent of criticism, from both inside and outside football.

But a meeting of Premier League clubs on Monday decided against disciplinary action after being told the emails “did include some inappropriate remarks” but that Mr Scudamore had apologised.

Afterwards Mr Scudamore, who vowed to meet with fellow senior football figure to demonstrate his commitment to the women’s game, said: “Entering into email exchanges of this nature was wrong and the apology I have made is sincere, as is the contrition I feel.

“These exchanges do not reflect my views towards women in football, the workplace or in general. It is something that will never be repeated.

“I appreciate that I have a tremendous amount of hard work to do to convince those in the game who do not know me that my leadership and work in the areas of equality and discrimination to date reflect who I am and what I believe.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, asked if a member of his government would remain in post if they admitted to sexist behaviour, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I don’t think they would.

“I have to be careful what I say because I haven’t seen these specific emails but... we have to set and keep high standards in politics.

“I have tried to enforce that in my own party.” He added: “I haven’t actually seen the emails myself but obviously people should treat everybody else with respect.” However, Mr Scudamore received support on Monday from two of the most senior women within English football.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady insisted he was “categorically not sexist", while Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne was “delighted that common sense has prevailed” in the decision to take no further action against Scudamore.

Monday’s meeting of 17 Premier League clubs – it didn’t include the three relegated teams – was called to resolve an issue that otherwise had the potential to rumble on for several more weeks.

“Obviously myself and the clubs are disappointed at what they have seen and heard, but no more so than Richard himself,” Ms Brady said.

“Very few have done more, in my opinion, to open up football, to support women in the game and take the whole anti-discrimination agenda forward.

“I have known Richard for 20 years and he is categorically not sexist.” Meanwhile Ms Byrne criticised those from outside football who’d been lobbying for Mr Scudamore’s dismissal.

All too often, external organisations or individuals try to exert pressure, when they are not privy to facts of cases.” Earlier, Premier League acting chairman Peter McCormick confirmed Scudamore would face no sanction in light of a “previously unblemished” record over 15 years’ service.

In the emails, Mr Scudamore was revealed to have joked about “female irrationality", forwarded a “male fairy tale” about a prince who’d slept with various women, and told his friend to keep a female colleague “off your shaft” in a golf-related exchange.

The woman who leaked the messages, Rani Abraham, a former temporary personal assistant to Mr Scudamore, previously defended her conduct by telling the Sunday Mirror: “Mr Scudamore has a huge amount of influence and is paid a vast sum of money and has behaved wrongly.

“And for those people who’ve attacked me for saying they were just ‘jokes’... how would they feel if those messages were written about their wife or girlfriend or daughter?”