Liverpool legend Graeme Souness has sparked an ugly sexism storm on social media after a questionable take on the controversial Premier League draw between Chelsea and Tottenham.
Blues manager Thomas Tuchel and Spurs counterpart Antonio Conte were both given red cards for a fiery altercation at the end of an ill-tempered 2-2 draw between the sides.
Harry Kane's header deep into stoppage time rescued a point for Spurs, as both sides kept their unbeaten starts to the season alive.
The match was hugely controversial and contained several flashpoints during the 90 minutes, before the rival managers squared up at one another.
Souness was analysing the match for Sky Sports alongside England women's legend Karen Carney, who retired from the national side at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
However, the Liverpool great might be regretting the choice of words he used to describe the clash at Stamford Bridge, after being accused of reinforcing sexist stereotypes.
“Referees are letting a lot more go and it makes for a better watch,” Souness said about the Premier League's more relaxed directives on what constitutes a foul this season.
“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.”
Graeme Souness said 'It's a man's game' talking about football... whilst sat on a panel with a woman
— 🇸🇴 (@defact0_) August 14, 2022
Souness was widely panned for using the term 'man's game', considering England's Lionesses famously just won the Women's Euro title and he was sitting alongside Carney.
When asked for his opinion on the post-match incident between the rival managers, Souness also brushed it off by stating: “Boys will be boys”.
Carney’s former England teammate Eniola Aluko was among numerous football fans to take aim at Souness on social media.
“Awkward turtles, Graeme Souness talking about ‘it’s a man’s game again’ sat next to an England centurion Karen Carney, two weeks after the Lionesses end a 56 year wait and win European Championships,” she tweeted. “Come on. It’s not okay.”
Chelsea women's star Bethany England was also less than impressed by the comments, with Souness savaged on social media over what many described as 'sexist' commentary.
“It’s a man’s game. Men at it. Get in the (bin emoji) what a disgraceful thing to say after the summer this country has just seen.”
“It’s a man’s game”
“Men at it”
Get in the 🗑 what a disgraceful thing to say after the summer this country has just seen.
— Bethany England (@Bethany_Eng15) August 14, 2022
Awkward turtles, Graeme Souness talking about “it’s a man’s game again” sat next to an England centurion Karen Carney, two weeks after @Lionesses end a 56 year wait and win European Championships.
Come on. It’s not okay.
— Eniola Aluko (@EniAlu) August 14, 2022
Graeme Souness saying that football is a "mans game" is exactly why women's football has struggled so much with backwards people like him still in the game. That is both sexist and encouraging toxic masculinity
— James Stevens (@grassrootsrefJa) August 14, 2022
Graeme Souness remains the single most interesting case study for modern masculinity. I'm going to continue watching to see him try and find new ways to say "it's a man's game" in a not sexist way, having got a slight telling off for it.
— Benjamin Litherland (@DrBenLitherland) August 14, 2022
Wow #souness just said it’s a man’s game whilst sitting next to a female professional. Why @SkyFootball keep him on I’ll never know. Perhaps he should have listened a bit more to @TyroneMings on that zoom call. Clearly still sees football through sexist eyes. Sad really.
— Jimmy (@jimmydoris1986) August 14, 2022
However, Piers Morgan was among those to defend Souness after insisting that the football great was speaking about a men's game and an incident involving two male managers.
Morgan sarcastically tweeted: “I’m outraged & disgusted that Graeme Souness used the words ‘man’s game’ when talking specifically about an incident in a man’s game played by two teams of men. Especially when we’ve all spent the past few weeks talking about the ‘women’s game.”
I’m outraged & disgusted that Graeme Souness used the words ‘man’s game’ when talking specifically about an incident in a man’s game played by two teams of men. Especially when we’ve all spent the past few weeks talking about the ‘women’s game.’
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) August 14, 2022
Graeme Souness talking about a men’s football match saying it’s a mans game is somehow offensive https://t.co/TKmxCLOcAP
— Rhys Brown (@rhysbrown1307) August 14, 2022
If you are all offended about Graeme Souness saying it’s a man’s game while discussing an actual man’s football match today then please unfollow me because you are clearly an utter melt.
— The Staunch Mr B (@gamble1917) August 14, 2022
Bad-tempered EPL showdown ends in a draw
An ill-tempered encounter at Stamford Bridge looked set for a victory for the hosts after goals for Kalidou Koulibaly and Reece James, despite Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's response.
But a last-gasp Harry Kane header earned a draw for Spurs, with the full-time whistle marked by an aggressive confrontation between Tuchel and Conte.
Both men were shown red cards by Taylor, but much of the German's ire stemmed from his belief that referee Anthony Taylor failed to spot a number of incidents.
Tuchel was left fuming over an alleged offside before Tottenham's first goal and an apparent foul on Marc Cucurella by Cristian Romero prior to the late equaliser.
Speaking after the game, Tuchel said he did not want Taylor in charge of another Chelsea game this season after claiming that he made several big mistakes.
"I don't think just some of the fans think that," he stated. "I can assure you the whole dressing room of us, every single person, thinks that.
"I can't understand how the first goal is not offside and I can't understand how when a player is pulled by their hair, the other player stays on the pitch."
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) August 14, 2022
Asked whether he would prefer Taylor not to oversee Chelsea's matches, Tuchel concurred, though he also pointed to the VAR official as equally culpable for the decision-making process.
"Maybe it would be better, maybe it would be better," he added. "But honestly we also have VAR, to help make the right decisions.
"Since when can players have their hair pulled, since when is that? And if he does not see it I don't blame him – I didn't see it.
"We have people at VAR who check this, and then you see it. And how can this not be a free-kick, and then a red card? How?
"This does not even have to do with the referee in this case. If he does not see something that's why we have people to check if this is a decisive error or not."
Tuchel failed to spot his own post-game dismissal for his part in the fracas with Conte, and made clear his displeasure that he faces a touchline ban, adding sarcastically: "So good - I cannot coach but the referee can whistle the next game."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.