‘Clueless’: Female football pundit at center of sexism row after claiming Premier League club had been ‘promoted because of Covid’
Leeds insisted they "greatly respected" Karen Carney's achievements on and off the pitch after 24 hours of acrimony following their 5-0 win over West Brom, starting when the former England winger claimed that the enforced mid-season break earlier this year had helped Marcelo Bielsa's notoriously high-energy side.
Speaking after the emphatic win for last season's second-tier champions, 33-year-old Carney praised Leeds for running more than their rivals but asked whether they would suffer the problems that had seen them finish poorly in the two campaigns before their promotion.
"We've seen that in the last couple of seasons and I actually think they got promoted because of Covid, in terms of a bit of respite," she said on the live broadcast, to the dismay of the Yorkshire club and many of its fans.
Not cool— Sam Matterface (@sammatterface) December 29, 2020
Strange behaviour from an account admin. Regardless if you disagree with Karen, you surely have to know that you've just given countless misogynistic morons a reason to pile on to push their backwards narrative.— Kristian Sturt (@FootieWriter) December 30, 2020
"I don't know if they would have got up if they hadn't had that break."
Leeds replayed the comments on their official Twitter page, pointing out that they had won the division by ten points and causing a predictable flurry of venom towards Carney, who was sent violent threats in 2018 after scoring the only goal for Chelsea in a Champions League match against Fiorentina.
Football writer Annie Eaves tagged Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani into her tweet as she seethed: "This is disgusting.
I take the responsibility of the Club tweet. I consider that comment completely unnecessary and disrespectful to our Club and particularly to the fantastic hard work of our players and coaches whom were understanding on the pitch for the last two championship seasons by all stats— Andrea Radrizzani (@andrearadri) December 29, 2020
Tonight is a stark reminder of why it can still be pretty damn grim being a woman working in football. You can disagree with an opinion without telling us to get back into the kitchen, yeah? Nice one.— Nicole Holliday (@NicoleHolliday) December 29, 2020
Agree... delete tweet!— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) December 29, 2020
"Leeds United should be ashamed. Clubs shouldn’t directly target people like this, especially when it’s just routine punditry. The replies are what would be expected."
Mega-wealthy Italian businessman Radrizzani took responsibility as he fired back: "I consider [Carney's] comment completely unnecessary and disrespectful to our Club and particularly to the fantastic hard work of our players and coaches, who were outstanding on the pitch for the last two championship seasons by all stats."
Wales player Jessica Fishlock also slammed Leeds, telling the club: "The point being made here is valid," she said, defending Carney. "Agree or disagree, that’s fine - but it’s a valid point.
Embarrassing from an official account. @karenjcarney is one of the best about and this is inciting hate. Bielsa record shows his teams run out of steam so ok you may of gone up but pick the bones out of the comment it was a valid statement 👊🏻— Matt Clifton (@M_cliffy) December 29, 2020
I don’t care about gender or ethnicity, I want educated insight about football from pundits. This is highlighting equality in a bad way. You can’t say this person has got this job based on anything other than her gender ticks the box for “equality”. that is fundamentally wrong.— richard lee (@richardlee91091) December 29, 2020
Absolutely disgraceful to see the Leeds social media team pointing their fans towards a fantastic female pundit. Fingers crossed the Leeds fan base aren’t as ignorant as the people running this account.— Jake Coren (@JakeCoren) December 29, 2020
"You know exactly what you are doing with this tweet, opening someone up to an obscene amount of abuse from your fanbase. Grow Up. Thanks."
Inevitable accusations of misogyny followed. "Absolutely disgraceful to see the Leeds social media team pointing their fans towards a fantastic female pundit," said one fan.
"Fingers crossed the Leeds fanbase aren’t as ignorant as the people running this account."
Ridiculous comment , why are you making this a sexist thing ? She made a disrespectful comment , it’s her opinion so up to her wether to say it or not , the club have every right to push back and challenge the comment .— Iain White (@WhiteIain) December 30, 2020
To publish such a tweet on an official club account was already questionable, to say the least. To keep it there when its target is receiving abuse which was prompted by your tweet is simply wrong. Please delete this asap.— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) December 30, 2020
Pundits upset football clubs from time to time. Pundits upset football fans from time to time. Football clubs and their fans are very sensitive and extremely tribal. It’s part of the pundits job to give opinions and it’s a sign of their effectiveness when clubs and fans pile on.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 30, 2020
Another responded: "Ridiculous comment. Why are you making this a sexist thing?
"She made a disrespectful comment. It's her opinion so it's up to her whether to say it or not.
"The club have every right to push back and challenge the comment."
Aside from being unfair on excellent pundit like Karen Carney, an issue with the Leeds tweet is that it plays into an increasing issue in football online, where any dissent or criticism or opposing views from "outside" are treated as some kind of sacrilege.— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) December 29, 2020
Karen Carney is one of the best analysts in football. I like listening to her views. She makes me think about the game more. My opinion: issue is not the Leeds tweet. Issue is vile, misogynistic response to it and why so many still want to silence the voices of women in football— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) December 30, 2020
All i have read today is hatred for us , because we have pointed out facts to a clueless pundit . 🤣🤣🤣— LUFC YORKIE LAD (@Bobsmit63776941) December 30, 2020
Well-known Sky Sports pundit Jim White reported that Radrizzani had expressed his sorrow and regret to him over his remarks, although the offending tweet had not been deleted by Leeds on Wednesday night and the owner described Carney's opinion as "harsh".
The Women in Football network disagreed. "Whether you agree with the comment or not, singling out and ridiculing an individual on an official club account is not what we’re here for," it announced.
"Karen Carney is a well-informed pundit. This tweet is inciteful and inappropriate. Not a good look now or at any time."
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand waded into the row after seeing a tweet from a director of the agency that represents him.
"Poor from the Leeds United social team, trying to embarrass a hard-working pundit who will now be subject to vile abuse from fans," it said, causing the ex-England regular to reply: "Agree - delete tweet."Also on rt.com 'Misogynistic & male-dominated': Aussie surf bombshell opens up on darker side of sport after launching X-rated website