Singapore coach backs away from sexist spat

SINGAPORE - The Singaporean football coach at the centre of a sexism row says he is shocked at comments attributed to him by local media and denies making sexist remarks about a female assistant referee.

"I did not single her out. I don't want to be the next Andy Gray," Woodlands Wellington coach R. Balasubramaniam said, referring to the former Scotland striker sacked from his role as pundit for Britain's Sky Sports last month after making sexist remarks about a female match official.

"I was shocked when I read the quotes attributed to me in the papers this morning because I thought she did a good job throughout the match and had actually raised her flag for a foul when Albirex scored," Balasubramaniam told Wednesday's Straits Times newspaper.

The 37-year-old was reported as launching a tirade against officials, including female assistant referee Rohaidah Nasir, after his team lost to Albirex Niigata in the S-League on Monday.

According to Singapore's The New Paper on Tuesday, Balasubramaniam said: "Look at the standard of the linesman. You put up your flag and then take it down. What is this? And the refereeing panel had to put this lady on!"

Rohaidah is one of two FIFA-certified female officials in Singapore and has been officiating in the S-League for two years.

The Football Association of Singapore told the Straits Times it had written to Balasubramaniam seeking clarification.