Former Chelsea footballer Jason Cundy has apologised for saying female football commentators's voices are too “high-pitched” to commentate football matches.
Cundy, who presents The Sports Bar on Talk Sport, sparked outrage for making the claim on Good Morning Britain on Tuesday.
The ex-footballer became embroiled in a row with host Piers Morgan who branded Cundy a “sexist pig” on air for saying he prefers men to be commentators.
Cundy’s remarks followed Vicki Sparks making history by becoming the first ever woman to commentate live on a World Cup game. The BBC Sport journalist commentated alongside Martin Keown for Portugal’s game against Morocco in Moscow last week.
But Cundy was not a fan of her taking to the mic, telling the ITV programme: “I prefer to hear a male voice when watching football – for 90 minutes of hearing a high pitched tone isn’t really what I would like to hear.
“When there is a moment of drama as there often is in football, that moment actually I think needs to be done with a slightly lower voice.”
Morgan, who is also editor-at-large of the US Mail Online, said: “My only criteria, Jason, is not that they’re male or female, it’s, ‘Do they know what they’re talking about?’
“Your annoyance appears to be that they have too pitchy voices, even though yours is just as pitchy, which seems to make you a sexist pig?!”
Cundy, who also played for Tottenham Hotspur, sought to defend his view.
“Listen it’s nothing to do with her insight, the way she delivers, or her knowledge, or her ability to do the job. It’s the voice. For 90 minutes I would rather prefer to listen to a male voice when I’m watching football.
“I consume a lot of football – to listen to that voice. It’s like, would you rather listen to Ed Sheeran or Celine Dion? We all have a choice.”
Morgan hit back: “Jason, you’re sounding ridiculous!”
Cundy apologised for the comments on Monday night on Twitter – saying he felt he deserved the criticism he was subject to.
“I want to sincerely apologise for the comments I made on Good Morning Britain. I came away realising just how foolish and out of order they were and how I deserved the backlash I have received,” he wrote.
“There are times when you have to hold your hands up and admit you are wrong and have been an idiot – and this is definitely one of those times. I regret the comments and also the hurt and anger they caused. I realise there is absolutely no place for these demeaning attitudes towards female commentators and I’m truly sorry.”
Cundy, who also presents on Chelsea TV, sparked outrage for his remarks on Twitter.
Jacqui Oatley, an ITV sports presenter who is known for being the first female commentator on BBC’s Match of the Day, said: “Frustrating that this 'female commentator' debate is still such an issue, 11 years after my first MotD game and eight years after I did seven live World Cup commentaries on 5 Live.
“Voice/style preference is always subjective – to say it ‘shouldn’t be allowed’ says more about the critic.”
Cundy is the latest former footballer to spark criticism for their attitudes towards to female pundits.
Former West Ham player Patrice Evra was accused of being “patronising” and “misogynistic” after his reaction to Eni Aluko‘s analysis of the World Cup on ITV last week.
Evra, who plays for the French national team, appeared alongside Aluko, who has made more than 100 appearances for England, and the former Sweden Striker, Henrik Larsson, as a pundit on ITV before the Costa Rica vs Serbia match.
Evra appeared surprised after Aluko assessed Costa Rica’s abilities and heaped praise on her “very good” analysis. He then started to clap for his fellow pundit, who plays as a forward for Juventus.
After Aluko provided more analysis of the World Cup in Moscow, the presenter of the show, Ms Oatley, asked Evra: “Are you going to sit here applauding Eni’s punditry all day?”
Evra replied: “This is just amazing, I think we should leave Henri, because she knows about more football than us! I’m really impressed you know.”
The saga prompted criticism on Twitter – with people labelling Evra “condescending” and saying he seemed visibly shocked at Aluko’s astute football commentary.
Others argued he had failed to do adequate research on the discussion and Aluko had significantly outperformed him.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies