Graeme Souness has sparked a sexism backlash after declaring on Sky Sports punditry that the fiery scenes between Chelsea and Tottenham showed "it’s a man's game all of a sudden now".
Karen Carney, who was capped over 100 times for England, appeared to raise an eyebrow as she sat alongside the former Liverpool and Newcastle United manager as he made the remarks.
Souness was referencing a more liberal approach from referees during matches, but Carney's former England team-mate Eniola Aluko and other women's footballers said his choice of words were "not okay".
"Awkward turtles, Graeme Souness talking about 'it’s a man’s game again' sat next to an England centurion Karen Carney, two weeks after the Lionesses end a 56 year wait and win European Championships," she tweeted. "Come on. It’s not okay."
Souness had made the "man's game" remark as he celebrated tempers boiling over during the 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte both received red cards at the final whistle after a handshake erupted into an angry clash moments after Harry Kane's equaliser six minutes into stoppage time.
The emotional scenes prompted Souness to say in his post-match analysis: "Referees are letting a lot more go and it allows for a better watch. It’s a man's game all of a sudden now. I thoroughly enjoyed both games today."
Carney was sat alongside him, as he then added: "I think we've got our football back, as I would enjoy football. Men at it, blow for blow, and the referee letting them get on with it."
Bethany England, who plays for Chelsea and has won 19 caps for the Lionesses, tweeted her dismay:
“It’s a man’s game”
“Men at it”
Get in the 🗑 what a disgraceful thing to say after the summer this country has just seen.
— Bethany England (@Bethany_Eng15) August 14, 2022
Aluko added: "Football is football. Played by women, men, boys and girls. Very simple."
However, Piers Morgan was among those to defend Souness. "I’m outraged & disgusted that Graeme Souness used the words ‘man’s game’ when talking specifically about an incident in a man’s game played by two teams of men," he wrote sarcastically on Twitter. "Especially when we’ve all spent the past few weeks talking about the ‘women’s game."