ITALY

Women referees 'disgusting' says Italian commentator

Women referees 'disgusting' says Italian commentator

Journalist Sergio Vessicchio was condemned for saying that it was a "joke" for the Italian Football Federation to appoint female officials to men's matches.

The sexist comments made by the commentator during a lower-tier Italian football match has caused outrage in the country. 'Disgusting' was the way the man on local station CanalecinqueTV described having a female assistant referee for the Eccellenza game (Italian fifth division), between Sant'Agnello and Agropoli.

Woman assistant 'disgusting'

"It's disgusting to see a woman who officiates in a championship where the clubs invest hundreds of thousands of euros," journalist Sergio Vessicchio opined. "That the [Italian Football] Federation allows something like this is a joke, it's disgraceful on a football pitch."

His comments were quickly picked up by the Order for Italian Journalists (the organisation that represents journalists in the country), who immediately withdrew Vessicchio's journalist's card. And the comments were further condemned by Marcello Nicchi, president of the Italian association of referees (AIA), through an official statement.

"I am left speechless by the reprehensible and discriminatory phrases used by the journalist Sergio Vessicchio towards our referee Annalisa Moccia, simply because she is a woman," read the statement. "To Annalisa and to all our referees, the Italian refereeing movement and I stand with you, for the contribution that you give to our field on a daily basis."

Vessicchio maintains sexist stance

Despite the unanimous condemnation, Vessicchio defended his position with a message posted on his Twitter account maintaining his opinion on the matter:

"I personally believe that women referees in football is wrong for many reasons. and for this I reaffirm my views. Why don't all these moralists fight for women to play alongside men? This is the real discrimination," he wrote.

There is an investigation into the situation by the equal opportunities department of the Italian Council of Ministers, and the AIA have stated that they will be taking legal measures to defend 'the image' of their officials.