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Five embarrassing remarks when microphone was on

David Moyes took over as Sunderland manager in July 2016 © AFP / OLI SCARFF

London, United Kingdom, Apr 4 – Sunderland manager David Moyes is in hot water over his remark to a BBC reporter that she might get a slap next time with both of them laughingafter he thought he was off air.

AFP Sports highlights five other incidents where people thought the microphone was off….. but it wasn’t:

Ron Atkinson

Former Manchester United and West Brom manager moved smoothly into the television pundit arena until disaster struck after a Champions League semi-final between Chelsea and Monaco in 2004. Atkinson, who was working for English channel ITV, criticised the performance of Chelsea’s French defensive great Marcel Desailly but added a racist adjective. Atkinson believed the microphone was off which it was in England but viewers in the Middle East — who were also receiving the broadcast — heard it. Atkinson resigned immediately saying: “I made a stupid mistake which I regret. At the moment I can’t believe I did it. If you look at my track record as a manager, I was one of the first managers in the game to give black players a chance (when he was at West Brom).”

Dean Jones

Former Australia batting great saw his TV career come to a calamitous end in 2006. Commentating on a Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka in Colombo, Jones thought he was off air when South Africa’s Hashim Amla, a devout Muslim, caught star batsman Kumar Sangakkara, and remarked “the terrorist has got another wicket”. His slur — made during a commercial break — provoked a storm of protest and within hours Jones was on a plane out of Sri Lanka. “It was a silly and completely insensitive thing to say and, obviously, it was never supposed to be heard over the air….. I have no end of respect for the Muslim faith,” said Jones.

Andy Gray and Richard Keys

Gray a former Scotland striker turned pundit and presenter Keys were the face of Sky Sports Football coverage for almost two decades until sexist remarks brought about their downfall in 2011. Thinking they were off air both made sexist remarks about Sian Massey a female assistant referee — who was due to run the line in the Wolves-Liverpool match that day — declaring female officials “don’t know the offside rule”. As it turned out, Massey made an excellent call during the match in the lead-up to a goal. Keys resigned and Gray was sacked. Keys apologised but added: “If off-air conversations of television and radio presenters were recorded, there would be no one left working. That is not to defend what happened.”

Byron MacDonald

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Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) swimming expert provoked outrage at last year’s Olympics when thinking he was off air he summed up 14-year-old Chinese swimmer Ai Yanhan’s performance in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay final which effectively permitted Canada to take bronze with China fourth in highly derogatory terms. “The little 14-year-old from China dropped the ball, baby. Too excited, went out like stink, died like a pig. Thanks for that.” MacDonald issued an apology adding: “I was referring to a swimmer’s performance, and not to them as a person.”

Jacques Chirac

Bon viveur French President thought he was off microphone when he made derogatory remarks about British and Finnish cuisine to then German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2005. “The only thing they (the British) have ever done for European agriculture is mad cow disease. After Finland, it is the country with the worst food. One cannot trust people whose cuisine is so bad.” His comments came shortly before the International Olympic Committee decided who would host the 2012 Olympics with Paris and London the main protagonists and for which the French capital had been the long time front runner. Chirac said it was meant in jest but legend has it that it cost the bid votes — Finland had two members — and London edged Paris 54-50.

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