Liverpool icon Graeme Souness does not regret 'a word' of what he said after the London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur
Ex-Liverpool midfielder and modern-day Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness is refusing to back down after causing controversy for referring to football as a "man's game." and insisted he does not regret "a word" of what he said on British television on Sunday.
The Scottish hardman, who won three European Cups in the Reds' late-70s to early-80s heyday, was providing analysis after a feisty derby between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.
When the match finished 2-2, managers Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel, who had provoked each other with exaggerated goal celebrations during the 90 minutes, then had to be separated after their custom handshake almost turned into a brawl.
Souness approved of the passion on display, remarking: "It's a man's game all of a sudden, again" and adding: "I think we've got our football back, as I would enjoy football."
"Men at it, blow-for-blow, and the referee letting them get on with it," Souness said, while sitting alongside ex-England women's international Karen Carney in the Sky Sports studio.
"It's also a woman's game as well," presenter Dave Jones butted in, as Souness received criticism online.
Reacting to the furor on TalkSPORT the following morning, Souness addressed the row by saying: "My comments yesterday, I said we've got our game back. That is the kind of football I remember playing, and we will be better for it... men were playing men, they got about themselves... it was a throwback, and I think our football will be better for it."
When asked if he regretted the comments Souness confirmed: "Not a word of it."
"Let me explain," Souness went on. "I've been advocating for years that the referees have such a major part to play in the success of the Premier League.
"We've got to be careful what we say today and I've not been very good at that," Souness confessed. "But we were becoming like other leagues.
"They were blowing the whistle all the time and it wasn't a good watch. Our game has always been unique, more meaty, more in your face and more intense and we got away from that.
Souness said that he "enjoyed two games of football yesterday where men were playing men and they got about themselves and were falling out with each other".
"Okay, I don't think we should be condoning the thing on the touchline, but I've been there. If you are on the touchline and things aren't going your way and you feel there's been an injustice. You've worked all week for these 90 minutes," he concluded.
Souness's fresh comments are unlikely to please offended parties such as Beth England, who recently won the women's Euro 2022 competition with the Lionesses and told him to "get in the bin."
"What a disgraceful thing to say after the summer this country has just seen," England tweeted.
Elsewhere on Twitter, ex-Chelsea and England forward Eni Aluko noted how Souness was "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 [the] European Championships."
"Come on. It's not okay," she protested.
As things stand, Souness is still set to continue in his punditry role which next week involves covering a blockbuster tie between his old club Liverpool and their arch rivals Manchester United on Monday evening.