Mark Clattenburg clarifies “pregnant or referees” remark after criticism

Mark Clattenburg came under fire after controversial comments on female officials and getting pregnant, but the former Premier League ref has come out to try and explain his point

Image: EMPICS Sport)

Mark Clattenburg was heavily criticised after he made comments saying that “women have to choose to be pregnant or referees.”

The former Premier League referee said female officials face a “difficult pathway” in their career if they choose to have kids, whilst speaking on talkSPORT earlier this week.

He said the “problem with women” was that they got pregnant, and faced a backlash for his comments, with many saying they were outdated and sexist.

Now, the ex-ref who officiated the 2016 Euros final, has clarified his remarks, further explaining his point.

He stressed he was not expressing his own opinion on women and pregnancies, but explaining female officialdom in football, and why there are so few female refs at the top.

Mark Clattenburg has tried to clarify his comments on women being referees


Bongarts/Getty Images)

He told the Daily Mail : “Is it the case that female officials who take a break to have a family can find their career progression slowed? Yes, it is. Does that make it right? No, absolutely not.

“It is my belief that more needs to be done to help female officials progress through the system quicker than they currently do.

“At the moment, you cannot be an international referee until 25 years old, for both men and woman. I think it would be better were the women’s age to be reduced to 22, which would allow more time to combine a career and family.

“My comments were not a wider observation of women in sport. They were very specific to refereeing.

“We have some excellent female officials, and there should be more.

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“For that to happen I believe the powers that be need to take a closer look at this issue of progression being hindered by starting a family.

“I apologise for the awkward way in which I tried to make this point on the radio. But I do hope my comments have brought to attention what I know is a concern for female officials within the game.”

Clattenburg suggested women referees getting to the top earlier, giving them time to have a baby later.

After his original comments, Clattenburg came under fire.

England rugby player Joe Marler was a radio guest alongside Clattenburg and initially asked the question then later took to Twitter to vent his frustration.

Rebecca Welch is the first female referee to officiate an English football league match


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He said: “Jesus Christ – Clattenburg’s response to my question about female referees in football on talkSPORT this morning was disrespectful and archaic.

“Sara Cox is leading the way with the way the world should be.”

Faye Carruthers, a broadcaster on talkSPORT, tweeted out saying: “On female referees: ‘Choose the right path’ – wow Mark Clattenburg, what era are you living in?!!!

“‘Pregnancy costs you two/three years of your life’ This is exactly the type of ridiculous statement that has held us all back for so long and made many of us fearful of getting pregnant.”

Previously, Clattenburg had tried to explain his comments by explaining how women have to pass the men’s fitness test, which a lot of women struggle with.

He also pointed out the ongoing issue of referees in the Women’s Super League, where the officials are not full-time, and without VAR the games sometimes have game-changing mistakes.

Clattenburg added he felt “sad” that pregnancy hampered female officials’ prospects and that there were “some great women referees.”

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