Kevin Keegan’s claim women are not qualified to comment on men’s international football is a ‘redundant argument’ considering how much the game has changed since his days on the pitch.
At a speaking engagement last week, the former England manager said he had a problem with women comparing their experiences on the pitch to men’s.
In quotes reported by The Times, he said: “I don’t like to listen to ladies talking about the England men’s team at the match because I don’t think it’s the same experience.
“I have a problem with that.
“The presenters we have now, some of the girls are so good, they are better than the guys. It’s a great time for the ladies, but if I see an England lady footballer saying about England against Scotland at Wembley and she’s saying, ‘If I would have been in that position I would have done this,’ I don’t think it’s quite the same.
“I don’t think it crosses over that much.”
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, pundit and former Irish International Méabh De Búrca said Keegan’s own experience would be very different to that of a modern player.
“I think it's a bit of a redundant argument nearly at this stage,” she said.
“I mean, when Kevin played himself, say during the 70s and 80s, it was a different experience as he calls it himself to what it is today but, you know, that hasn't stopped him giving his opinion.
“But at the end of the day, I suppose that's the beauty of football – that everyone has an opinion and it's usually not the same one.”
Asked whether his comments were offensive, De Búrca said his opinions are not that unusual.
“I suppose you could argue that maybe some men of his generation, they have a subconscious prejudice, because at the end of the day, most of their lives, they've been conditioned and exposed to the fact that football has previously been exclusively a game for boys and men,” she said.
“I don’t think it's a switch that can be just flicked instantly.
“It's a cultural thing and I think, you know, it won't happen overnight the change that needs to happen, and I guess better education and that type of thing around these opinions and this kind of stuff will maybe dissipate that for future generations down the line.”
Keegan's comments have sparked debate online with many people criticising him – but others voicing agreement.
De Búrca said it is no surprise to see people supporting his viewpoint.
“I think the women's game, it's only developing and former female footballers are only becoming kind of a thing now, because girls wouldn't have played professionally, you know, in in the years gone by,” she said.
“So, like that, it is a very new argument but I don't think someone commenting on a football situation should have a gender attached to their viewpoints as such.
“I also don't think you can paint everyone with the same brush."
She said football punditry benefits from having a range of different opinions.
“Some people might think certain female pundits aren't great, others might think certain male pundits aren't great.
“But I do think it's important to have people with different opinions and experiences on a panel because otherwise it would be very boring if we all had the same viewpoints and same thoughts all day, every day.”
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Main image shows Kevin Keegan. Image: Independent / Alamy.