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Former France striker apologizes for sexist jibe

updated 11:10 AM EDT, Wed March 27, 2013
Former striker Bernard Lacombe scored 12 goals in 38 appearances for France.
Former striker Bernard Lacombe scored 12 goals in 38 appearances for France.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former France striker Bernard Lacombe apologizes following sexist outburst
  • Lacombe said he doesn't talk about football with women during a French radio show
  • Lyon unofficial "special adviser" was responding to a caller named Sonia who was criticizing Karim Benzema
  • France's Benzema has not scored for Les Bleus since June 2012

(CNN) -- Embroiled by successive racism scandals throughout much of the season, football was engulfed in a sexism storm on Wednesday after a leading ex-French international footballer advised women to look after their "pots and pans" rather than talk about the sport.

During a radio phone-in following France's 1-0 defeat to Spain in Tuesday's 2014 World Cup qualifier, Bernard Lacombe, who scored over 100 goals for Lyon between 1969 and 1978 before returning to coach the team in 1996, advise a woman caller Sonia that her place was in the kitchen rather than airing her opinions on football.

"I don't talk about football with women," said Lacombe on the RMC radio station. "It's my character, that's my way. They should look after their pots and pans, that would be better."

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Sonia had called the station to criticize France striker Karim Benzema, a Real Madrid star who made his name at Lyon, for his performance against Spain. He last scored for France in June 2012.

But Lacombe was quickly forced to reconsider his view of women and their right to engage in a football debate as he issued an apology via Lyon's website, explaining he had only meant to defend Benzema.

"I'm sorry if my remarks yesterday on RMC have hurt women and in particular sportswomen and female footballers," read the statement on Lyon's website.

"My only intention was to respond with a quip to the umpteenth criticism of Karim Benzema about his skills that struck me as particularly gratuitous and unacceptable.

"I would like to convey to Sonia and her partners the respect I hold for them and my admiration for their skills as footballers and for their outstanding performances."

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Benzema has failed to score in any of France's five qualifying matches and hasn't found the net for Les Bleus since a friendly win over Estonia eight months ago.

"I want to say that I would have reacted as vehemently if the criticism of Karim Benzema had come from a man, obviously with different words but certainly as colorful," continued Lacombe.

"I do not want to attack anyone, but simply to defend a player who does not deserve such treatment."

Lacombe now serves as an unofficial "special adviser" Lyon to club president Jean-Michel Aulas and his jibe is acutely embarrassing for the French club given its women's team have dominated European football in recent years

On Sunday, Lyon's women's team underlined their status as the finest in Europe with an 11-0 demolition of Soyaux in the Coupe de France.

Patrice Lair's team have won the European Champions League in each of the last two season in addition to collecting 10 French league titles.

This is not the first time a senior football figure has uttered sexist remarks.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter suggested female players should play in tighter shorts, similar to the ones worn by volleyball players.

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