While watching a Six Nations match between France and Wales, Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton was the target of “sexist” comments by BBC broadcaster John Inverdale.
According to Independent, Inverdale sparked the outrage of viewers during the airing of Friday’s match when he implied that Middleton did not understand the rules of rugby. As the camera panned to show the Duchess and her husband Prince William watching, the broadcaster said, “I don’t know exactly how au fait with the rules Kate is, but I assume she must have been struggling a bit in the last 20 minutes.”
A lot of people were more than upset to hear the remarks, saying that it was sexist to assume Kate Middleton did not understand the rules of rugby simply because she was a woman. Most of them aired their thoughts on Twitter. Some even addressed BBC directly, asking for the sacking of the reporter.
— Sarah (@sarahcatriona) March 18, 2017
The BBC responded by insisting that John Inverdale’s remarks were generally about the very confusing final moments of the match, and not specifically aimed at Middleton. The broadcasting company pointed out that Inverdale added “…and she wasn’t alone” in case the Duchess was actually confused about how the match played out.
However, this reasoning did not cut it for the viewers. They reasoned that if Inverdale was talking in a more general sense, he would not have singled out Kate Middleton as her husband Prince William is present and beside her, as well.
— Fiona Bowman (@FionaMABowman) March 18, 2017
It did not help that John Inverdale has been accused of sexism before. Express mentions that he has also been criticised on numerous occasions in the past, one incident of which is his spouting of “misogynistic” remarks about French tennis champion Marion Bartoli.
When Bartoli won the Wimbledon in 2013, Inverdale infamously said, “I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14, maybe, ‘Listen, you’re never going to be, you know, a looker.'”
Adding to this, the reporter implied that Bartoli had to fight and “compensate” because she is “never going to be somebody like a Sharapova,” “never going to be 5 ft. 11,” and “never going to be somebody with long legs.”
This was also met with a media backlash, and Inverdale apologised the next day for the remarks. He said he only made the “ham-fisted” comments because he is suffering from hay fever.
The reporter was again accused of sexism during his presentation of the 2016 Rio Olympics. One of the most notable moments was when he congratulated Andy Murray for being “the first” player two win two gold medals.
People found the comment problematic; while Murray was the first in his sport two win two gold medals, Venus and Serena Williams already won four gold medals previously, and those medals came with singles and doubles titles.
He was also criticised for the way he presented the Rio Olympics. He was reported to have several clashes with co-presenter Steve Redgrave, who claimed that his air time was smushed because of Inverdale.
While he has his fair share of critics and detractors, Inverdale has some defenders, too. One journalist from The Telegraph suggested that critics love hating on the reporter because they were enjoying “the vicarious thrill of a sustained pile-on.” Mark Davies of The Spectator also claimed that the reporter was the subject of “totally unwarranted” criticism.
So, was John Inverdale actually being sexist in his remarks? Suffice it to say that media outlets have reached out to him for comment regarding the Kate Middleton incident. The reporter has no response as of this time.
[Featured Image by Michael Steele/Getty Images]