Al Jazeera, in a bid to beef up its English-language soccer coverage, is reportedly set to hire two controversial Sky Sports presenters, who left the British broadcaster this week amid allegations of having made sexist comments.
The expected hiring of Richard Keys and Andy Gray, reported by The Evening Standard, comes days after Jazeera won the rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 World Cups across the Middle East and North Africa.
Keys and Gray, a former Everton striker, were forced to leave Sky after they were caught on tapes leaked on the Internet making sexist comments about a female assistant referee, Sian Massey.
The two presenters’ departure was first reported by The Guardian. Prominent soccer media critic Richard Whittall, writing on his blog, A More Splendid Life, wryly pointed out “the hypocrisy” of traditional media breaking the story given the “sexism within its own ranks…”
Whittall noted that traditional soccer media have “largely been completely dismissive of women's soccer (to the detriment of the development of the sport in England, as well as an echo of the sad legacy of the FA's relationship with women's football).”
Al Jazeera, one of the world’s top global broadcasters, has populated the staff of its English-language service with prominent broadcasters from major US and British broadcast companies.
The controversial network, owned by the ruling of family of Qatar, which last month won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, is playing an important role with its reporting in the escalating mass protests across the Arab world that earlier this month toppled Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.