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Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has claimed that women who wish to become elite level referees in the male game are held back by pregnancy.
The bizarre remark was made during a recent interview with TalkSPORT, where the 46-year-old was speaking about his time in the game.
Clattenburg, who officiated the 2016 Champions League final, made the comments on the morning breakfast show, where he was interviewed by Alan Brazil, Ally McCoist and rugby player Joe Marler.
When asked whether we could soon see a female referee in the Premier League, following in the example of Premiership rugby, Clattenburg responded by pointing out the recent progress that has been made.
"We've always had an assistant referee in the Premier League, Sian Massey, we've now got a woman referee in the Football League, Rebecca Welsh," he said.
"So, women are starting to develop in the men's game. If you look at UEFA, a French woman refereed the Super Cup final. So, UEFA are getting more and more women.
"The problem with women is, and certainly in refereeing, certainly in football, they have a difficult path where, if they get pregnant during their refereeing career, it can stop them a long way.
"They've got to make this choice - do they want to be pregnant and have children, or do they want to be referees."
This was followed up by another contested statement, in which the Englishman attempted to explain the difficulties that some women may face when having to complete men's Premier League fitness test.
"They've also got to pass the men's fitness test. A lot of women struggle with the men's fitness test. If you want to be in the men's game, you have to meet that criteria," Clattenburg continued.
"So, if they pass all this, and they choose the right path, I believe that women should be involved in the men's game, as well as men being involved in the women's game.
"If we look at the Women's Soccer League, for example, there's been some high profile mistakes. Why not bring in the best referees, if you've got the best leagues."
When pressed on his views about female referees becoming pregnant, he seemingly doubled down.
"Women have to make that sacrifice. Say if they get to a certain level in refereeing, and they want to get to that next level. If you become pregnant, it can cost you two or three years of your life," Clattenburg asserted.
"Certainly when you've had a baby, you're out nine to 10 months, then you'll take another six months to recover from your body, so therefore it's nearly two years...to pass that men's fitness test is very, very demanding."
Clattenburg retired from elite level officiating in 2017, briefly returning two years later for a short stint in the Chinese Super League.