David Jones: Sky Sports presenter apologises over race debate intervention

Eoghan Macguire
Chelsea's German defender Antonio Rudiger throws an object off the playing surface during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on December 22, 2019. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /  (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Chelsea's German defender Antonio Rudiger (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Sky Sports presenter David Jones has apologised after being criticised for his intervention in a post-match discussion on racism.

Sunday’s Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea was marred by accusations of racist chanting with defender Antonio Rudiger appearing to suggest he could hear monkey noises from the crowd.

A number of items were also thrown onto the pitch during the match, that Chelsea won 2-0, with Rudiger pictured removing what appeared to be a lighter from the playing surface.

Speaking on Sky Sports after the game, analyst Gary Neville told Jones and other studio guests that the UK’s main political parties had not done enough to combat racism in wider society. The former Manchester United defender also criticised the Premier League.

“We have a racism problem in the Premier League in England. The Premier League have got to stand up. They hide behind the FA (Football Association) on this issue in my opinion. They push their disciplinary and other issues over to the FA,” Neville said.

He added: “We have just had a General Election in this country where the leaders of both main parties are accused constantly over the past month of fuelling racism and accepting racism in their parties,” Neville added.

“If it is accepted in the highest office in the country then we aren’t talking at a micro level, we are talking at an enormous level.”

Upon finishing his point, Jones intervened to say he was “compelled to say that those are the opinions of Gary Neville and not Sky Sports. That is my duty.”

Neville appeared taken aback, stating his contribution was balanced before asking Jones whether he disagreed with anything he had said. Jones replied that whether he did or did not was irrelevant.

Jones was quickly criticised on social media with many suggesting he had diluted what was a powerful moment.

He later tweeted: “I’m so sorry to have spoiled what was such an important discussion on racism tonight. I had to intervene when Gary suggested the two main political parties were to blame - I didn’t make that clear enough. For that I apologise unreservedly.

“I would never purposefully shut down a discussion on racism. I’ve worked for Sky for over 20 years and know they share my view that racism of any kind should not be tolerated. That is not a debate. And that’s why I’m so very disappointed and sorry tonight.”

There have been a number of high profile racist incidents in the Premier League this season.

In August, several players including Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford called on social media companies to do more to crack down on racist abuse received by players online.

Earlier this month, a man was arrested and bailed after allegations of racist abuse of players during the Manchester derby.

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On Sunday evening the Professional Footballers’ Association said it was “disgusted and dismayed” that alleged racism was again to the fore in football and called for a government inquiry into the issue.

Tottenham also said it would be “conducting a thorough investigation” into the allegations surrounding Sunday’s match and vowed to take the “strongest possible action.”