David Moyes: Sunderland boss never feared for his job despite slap comment

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Moyes 'deeply regrets' slap remark

Sunderland boss David Moyes says that he never felt his job was in danger following his comments to a BBC reporter that she might "get a slap".

Moyes has apologised for what he said to Vicki Sparks after an interview following a draw with Burnley in March.

Sunderland are standing by the Scot, who has been asked to give his observations on the incident by the FA.

"It's really good to have the support and I'm really grateful to them," Moyes told BBC Radio 5 live.

When asked if he had thought his position was under threat following the comments, he said: "No. I felt I had made my apology, there had been no complaint from Vicki Sparks, and because of that, everything was fine."

He also said it was his idea to offer an apology, adding: "As I said at the time, I regret my words."

In his post-match news conference following Tuesday's 2-0 loss at Leicester, he admitted that he had been "surprised, in many ways" by the reaction to his comments.

"The world of football is a great business now," he added. "It employs an incredible amount of people now, be it through the media or on the training grounds, and for that reason it is a big talking point."

Sunderland stand by Moyes despite 'wholly inappropriate' comments

David Moyes
David Moyes Sunderland side are bottom of the Premier League, eight points from safety

In the interview in question, Moyes was asked by Sparks if the presence of owner Ellis Short had put extra pressure on him.

He said it had not but, after the interview, added Sparks "might get a slap even though you're a woman" and told her to be "careful" next time she visited.

Both Moyes and Sparks were laughing during the exchange and the former Everton and Manchester United manager later apologised to the reporter, who did not make a complaint.

Moyes revealed on Monday that the club knew about the incident soon after it occurred.

In a statement on Tuesday, the club said: "The exchange between the manager and a BBC reporter was wholly unacceptable and such actions are not condoned or excused in any way.

"David recognised this immediately, proactively bringing the matter to the attention of the CEO and apologising to the reporter.

"The club also spoke with both a senior figure at the BBC and the reporter personally, expressing its profound regret over what had occurred.

"The matter was treated with the utmost seriousness from the outset and the swift and decisive action taken by the club and the manager at the time ensured that it was resolved to the satisfaction of the reporter and the BBC, which was the priority.

"With both the BBC and the reporter agreeing that appropriate action had been taken at the time, the club continues to fully support David in his role as manager of Sunderland AFC."

'Regrettable, distasteful and showed a complete lack of respect'

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Moyes should 'think about his position' - agent Anderson

His comments have been criticised by shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Khan and Women in Football, with the latter saying it was "deeply disappointed and concerned" but "pleased that David Moyes has apologised".

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke said: "It was regrettable, it was distasteful and I think it showed a complete lack of respect. And we in the game stand for respect.

"But I don't think it undermines football's desire to be inclusive and respectful. Every now and again, we will have to remind people of the high standards we need to observe in football."

When asked if it was sexist, Clarke said: "It could have been interpreted as such.

"I think it's doubly bad to use such a term to a woman because there is a lot of violence against women in society and terms like that aren't just disrespectful, I think they are bad examples.

"I regret that it happened and I'm sure that David Moyes regrets that it happened."

The chief executive of Domestic violence charity Women's Aid, Polly Neate, said: "We cannot be complacent about remarks like these from influential men.

"We urge the FA to act swiftly and take this opportunity to send out a clear and strong message to the footballing community that there is no place for sexism and misogyny in modern football."

Speaking in a news conference on Monday, Moyes said: "I deeply regret the comments I made.

"That's certainly not the person I am. I've accepted the mistake. I spoke to the BBC reporter, who accepted my apology."

The BBC confirmed that Moyes and Sparks had spoken about the exchange and the issue had been resolved.

A spokesman said: "Mr Moyes has apologised to our reporter and she has accepted his apology."

Sunderland are bottom of the Premier League on 20 points, eight points from safety.

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