A leading French sports pundit has been labelled a "misogynist" and widely criticised for claiming women should not commentate football matches because their voices are too high. Denis Balbir, of M6 television channel and RTL radio, said Tuesday he was "against" women journalists "commentating football matches". "She could never possess the tone of voice... when things get dramatic, she'll start hitting the high notes," said Balbir. After a storm erupted on social media, French trade unions representing media employees, including the SDJ (Societe des Journalistes) hit back on Wednesday.
"The SDJ disassociates itself from these wayward comments and does not approve what was said by the sports presenter," it said a statement.
"Being a woman does not mean you cannot commentate a football match."
Balbir later claimed his comments had been "badly interpreted", claiming he had "worked alongside great female journalists for many years".
Anne-Laure Bonnet, a popular sports presenter with beIn Sports, labelled Balbir a misogynist: "Don't hide your misogyny behind the false excuse of a tone of voice.
"Women haven't monopolised the high notes."
It is not the first time the 59-year-old Balbir has courted controversy.
In April he issued an apology after aiming homophobic comments at the players of Leipzig following their elimination by Marseille in the Europa League.
The comments were made off-air during a stint for W9, but later diffused on Twitter, leading to his temporary suspension by the television channel.