Former Liverpool manager Graeme Souness says he does not regret calling football “a man’s game” following Chelsea’s explosive Premier League clash against Tottenham, despite a sharp reaction to his comments.
Souness said he was delighted that referee Anthony Taylor allowed players to engage in a series of offensive tackles during a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel and his Tottenham counterpart Antonio Conte were both sent off after an angry exchange at the touchline.
The 69-year-old Souness, who was a tough-faced midfielder, liked the physical nature of the London derby, saying: “It’s a man’s game all of a sudden again.
“I think we’ve got our football back, because I would enjoy football, men in it, blow for blow, and the referee let them go on with it.”
But the former Liverpool and Scotland player’s views, expressed in her role as a television pundit, prompted a backlash from current and former England women’s players.
Lioness’s historic Euro 2022 win last month has fueled the popularity of the women’s sport in England.
Ani Aluko, capped 102 times by the lioness, and Beth England, part of the Euro-winning team, both criticized Souness on social media.
Chelsea forward England said Souness’ remarks were “a shameful thing to say after the summer this country has just seen”.
Aluko, now Angel City FC’s director of sport in the United States, wrote: “Graeme Souness, talking about ‘It’s a man’s game again’, sat next to Karen Carney, an England centurion, Lioness 56 Two weeks after ending the year’s wait and winning the European Championships.”
Although Souness, asked by talkSPORT on Monday if he regretted his comments, he was unrepentant.
“Not a word about it,” he said. “I have been advocating for years that referees have such a big role to play in the success of the Premier League.
“Today we have to be careful with what we say and I haven’t been very good at that, but we were becoming like other leagues.
“My comment yesterday was saying we have got our game back. This is the kind of football I remember playing.”