Sunak: I would love it if one of my daughters wanted to be a football pundit

Rishi Sunak has described a row over women in football punditry as “completely ridiculous” and said he would “love it” if one of his daughters wanted to be a commentator.

The Prime Minister said the profession should be “open to everybody” after comments made by former sportsman Joey Barton were widely condemned as misogynistic.

Barton has previously compared ITV broadcasters Eni Aluko and Lucy Ward to serial killers Fred and Rose West and said “women shouldn’t be talking with any kind of authority in the men’s game”.

Asked on a visit to Hampshire about attitudes towards women working in football punditry, the Prime Minister said: “I listen to all sorts of conversations and they’re all great. It shouldn’t really matter, quite frankly.

“I mean, what we care about is the quality of the commentating and … I don’t get to watch or listen to as much football as I’d like … but obviously, that’s completely ridiculous.

“I have two young girls and I’d love it if one of them wanted to be a football commentator when they grew up but I sadly think that it’s unlikely to happen. I’ve failed to get them into it and support Saints the way I do, but there you go. But yeah, of course it should be open to everybody.”

It comes after sports minister Stuart Andrew condemned Barton’s “dangerous” comments and said he will take the issue up with social media platforms.

“These are comments that open the floodgates for abuse and that’s not acceptable,” he told Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee last week.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Barton responded by calling the minister a “c***” and saying: “We pay your wages.”

Following his remarks about Aluko and Ward, ITV Sport said in a statement: “For Joey Barton, an ex-professional player with a significant social media presence, to target two of our pundits, Eni Aluko and Lucy Ward, with such vindictive remarks based on gender and to invoke the names of serial killers in doing so is clearly contemptible and shameful on his part.

“Football is for everyone.”

In a video posted on Instagram, Aluko said: “I’ve genuinely been scared this week. I didn’t leave my house until Friday and I’m now abroad.

“I’ve felt under threat this week. I’ve felt like something is going to happen to me. And I don’t say that for anyone to feel sorry for me – I say that for people to understand the reality and the impact that hate speech has, the impact that racism has, the impact that sexism has, the impact that misogyny has on all of us females in the game, in sports broadcasting.”

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