An Italian journalist and football commentator has had his press pass revoked after saying female referees in male football are “disgusting”.
Journalist and commentator Sergio Vessicchio made the comments before the match between Agropoli and Sant Agnello in Italy’s fifth tier.
Vessicchio posted a video to social media speaking about female referee Annalisa Moccia officiating the match as an assistant referee.
He said: “I would ask the director (of the broadcast) to focus on the assistant, which is something you cannot see. It’s disgusting seeing women who come and are referees in a league in which clubs spend thousands of euros. It’s a joke from the federation.”
He added that Moccia “isn’t apt to be on a football pitch”.
Reports state that shortly after the video was posted online, the Order of Italian Journalists revoked Vessicchio’s press pass. Vessicchio works for Canale Cinque TV.
Marcelo Nicchi, the President of the Association of Italian Referees (AIA) released a statement saying: “I’ve been left speechless by the unqualifiable and discriminatory phrases used by the journalist Sergio Vessicchio, a sporting commentator for local television, against our referee Annalisa Moccia, only because she is a woman.”
Vessicchio responded to the criticism on social media, writing: “I personally believe that making women referees in football is wrong for many reasons, which is why I’m confirming my idea. Why don’t all these moralists fight for women to play together with men? That’s the true discrimination.”
He then finally appeared to backtrack in an interview with Radio CRC, saying: “I was wrong and did something foolish. I expressed myself poorly. I’m not sexist and I would make women govern the world. I attacked the system and the federation, I was wrong in how I expressed my thoughts.”