PR Week: Moyes scandal a depressing reflection on the game

The sexism row enveloping football after David Moyes said he might have to give a female journalist "a slap" is "depressing" to see, according to one sports-focused PR professional, but the Sunderland manager deserves "some credit" for his swift apology, another says.

The Football Association has written to Moyes after a recording emerged of a conversation he had with the BBC's Vicki Sparks after a goalless draw against Burnley two weeks ago. "You were just getting a wee bit naughty at the end there. So just watch yourself or you might get - you still might get a slap even though you’re a woman," he said.

After it came to light over the weekend, he said yesterday that he "deeply regrets" the comment, and claimed that Sparks had accepted an apology after a private discussion.

It has led to much debate about misogyny in football, and the sport's social responsibilities. Yesterday, three sport and PR experts argued that the Premier League needed to emphasise a social purpose beyond its monetary motivations in order to 'humanise' itself, following the departure of the its longstanding comms chief.

David Alexander, founder of Calacus PR and former football journalist, said: "With the exception of presenters on Sky Sports News, women in sports journalism still have to work far harder than their male counterparts to gain the respect and acceptance that they deserve."

"Some credit must go to Moyes for apologising to Ms Sparks swiftly and admitting his error in a press conference once the story broke, but as an ambassador of Sunderland and of the Premier League, Moyes has underlined how much work there is to be done within sport and society to stamp out sexism. The Football Association have asked Moyes for his explanation and would do well to make an example of him to uphold the values they seek to promote."

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