Sunderland boss David Moyes could still face punishment from the Football Association (FA) despite issuing a public apology for suggesting he might slap a female reporter at the end of an interview.
The FA have written to the former Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Everton manager and asked him to explain his behaviour during the exchange, which occurred after his side’s goalless draw with Burnley on 18 March.
In the incident, Moyes was asked whether the presence at games of Black Cats owner Ellis Short exerted any additional pressure on him. He dismissed the notion and, after the interview finished, said: “It was getting a wee bit naughty at the end there, you just watch yourself.
“You still might get a slap even though you’re a woman. Careful the next time you come in.”
The exchange was captured on film and emerged on Monday. The BBC journalist in question, Vicki Sparks, is said to have accepted his apology, but Moyes, whose relegation-threatened side play defending Premier League champions Leicester tonight, may still face FA action. He could even receive a ban given the nature of the threatening language used.
“There will be anger about this and I deeply regret what I’ve done,” Moyes, who insists he has not considered resigning, said. “It was the heat of the moment. The business we’re in, sometimes you only have seconds to think and answer. It was the wrong thing to do.
“I have said that I regret it. I have spoken to the girl, who I apologised to and she accepted it. I rang her on the Monday morning, she was fine and accepted it.
“I spoke to [chief executive] Martin [Bain] immediately after it happened. I spoke to Ellis about it on the Monday morning as well. They were aware of it two weeks ago, but for some reason it has come out now.”
It is believed that Moyes is unlikely to lose his job over the matter, although his actions have courted considerable outrage, including criticism from domestic violence charities, women’s groups and Parliament.
Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP said: “If you look at the fact that he wouldn’t have said that to a male reporter, and I truly believe that, I think the comments, his behaviour and attitude was sexist.
“With the FA, part of what they have been criticised for in the past is not tackling sexism and other forms of discrimination, which needs to be stamped out across sport.
“Fundamentally it’s a male-dominated environment that women find incredibly difficult to break into and comments like this do nothing to encourage women.”
Bottom of the table Sunderland have endured a miserable season and have won just one of their last 14 matches across all competitions. The Wearsiders sit eight points adrift of safety with just nine matches of the campaign to go.