Wed, Nov 15, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Luton boss Newell offers apology for `sexist' snipe


Luton manager Mike Newell, pictured in a Jan. 18 file photo, apologized live on television on Monday for his criticism of female soccer referees.


Luton manager Mike Newell apologized on Monday for his criticism of female referees, saying his remarks were "ill-timed and out-of-order."

Luton called Newell's comments about assistant referee Amy Rayner "completely unacceptable" and demanded an explanation before the club's board.

Newell's apology came hours before the board met to discuss his comments, which were made after the club lost 3-2 to Queens Park Rangers in the Football League Championship on Saturday.

England's Football Association (FA) will also look into Newell's remarks about Rayner.

"This is not park football, so what are women doing here?" Newell said in his post-match news conference. "It is tokenism, for the politically correct idiots."

The remarks drew a wave of condemnation and led Newell to go live on television to apologize.

"I regret what I said and I do apologize to the people who I've offended because ... they were ill-timed and out-of-order comments," he said.

However, Newell did not retract his remarks. He also said he wouldn't resign.

"I very rarely say things that I don't mean but I'm not going to get into a debate about my opinions," Newell told Sky Sports News. "Today, it's an attempt to publicly apologize to anybody I've offended, particularly Amy Rayner."

Luton's board issued a statement after its meeting on Monday, saying that Newell would be asked to explain his comments about Rayner and also his criticism of the club's management.

"The club disassociates itself totally from the sexist comments made by him, [which] have no place in this club and are completely unacceptable," the board's statement read. "Representatives of the board will be meeting the manager as a matter of urgency to ask him to explain his comments and other criticisms."

Newell said he wanted to apologize to Rayner in person and had left messages for her.

Rayner is in her second year as a match official. She is a referee in the Conference -- the fifth tier of English soccer -- and an assistant in the Football League, which comprises the three divisions below the Premier League.

Rayner is also registered as an assistant referee with FIFA for women's internationals.

Newell was angry that Rayner had awarded QPR a corner kick rather than a goal kick, allowing QPR's Dexter Blackstock to score the winner.

In his post-match comments, Newell said no women should be referees.

"I know that sounds sexist, but I am sexist, so I am not going to be anything other than that," he said. "We have a problem in this country with political correctness, and bringing women into the game is not the way to improve refereeing and officialdom."

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