Liverpool legend Graeme Souness has defended himself after he proclaimed that “it’s a man’s game all of a sudden” following Chelsea’s draw against Tottenham.
Chelsea and Tottenham were involved in a feisty London derby on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.
The second half in particular was hectic, as Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte and their respective backroom teams clashed twice on the touchline.
The managers were both shown red cards after the final whistle for their antics. Tensions also boiled over on the pitch as a heated rivalry renewed.
Souness lapped this up post-match, stating: “Referees are letting a lot more go and it makes for a better watch.
“We’ve all played the game, with simulation and people throwing themselves into the ground. I haven’t seen that in the two games today. It’s a man’s game all of a sudden now.”
His choice of words has led to some criticism, especially with it coming just weeks after England women won the European Championships.
Souness was also sat alongside ex-England and Chelsea star Karen Carney when he made these comments.
Lionesses hero Beth England has taken to Twitter to hit out at Souness: “‘It’s a man’s game’, ‘men at it’. Get in the bin, what a disgraceful thing to say after the summer this country has just seen.”
Souness appeared on talkSPORT on Monday morning to clear up his stance:
“[I don’t regret] a word of it. Let me explain. I’ve been advocating for years that the referees have such a major part to play in the success of the Premier League,” Souness told talkSPORT.
“We’ve got to be careful what we say today and I’ve not been very good at that, but we were becoming like other leagues.
“They were blowing the whistle all the time and it wasn’t a good watch. Our game has always been unique, more meaty, more in your face and more intense and we got away from that.
“My comments yesterday were saying we’ve got our game back. That is the kind of football I remember playing in.
“We’ve got to be better for it. The directive to the referees is long overdue, we’ve got our game back.
“I enjoyed two games of football yesterday where men were playing men and they got about themselves and were falling out with each other.
“Okay, I don’t think we should be condoning the thing on the touchline, but I’ve been there. If you are on the touchline and things aren’t going your way and you feel there’s been an injustice. You’ve worked all week for these 90 minutes.”