London (AP) — Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher was suspended as a soccer analyst by the Sky television network on Monday after being filmed spitting in the direction of a 14-year-old girl through his car window.
The incident happened on Saturday after Carragher left Old Trafford, where the former England international was working for Sky Sports at Manchester United’s game against Liverpool.
In a video of the incident, the teenager’s father repeatedly mentioned Saturday’s score — Liverpool lost 2-1 — before Carragher spat.
“Sky takes this matter extremely seriously and strongly condemns Jamie’s actions,” Sky said in a statement. “We have made that clear to him in person today and suspended him from his duties. It falls well below the standards we expect of our people.”
During an appearance on Sky News, after the spitting footage was aired on a big screen, Carragher called the incident a “moment of madness.”
“My biggest regret is for the 14-year-old girl to be caught in the middle of it,” Carragher said. “That devastates me more than anything. I’ve got a daughter exactly the same age and I can’t say how I’d react if someone did that to her.”
Carragher joined Sky after retiring from playing in 2013 and has won plaudits for his tactical analysis on the flagship “Monday Night Football” show and other Premier League broadcasts.
“I have brought shame on the name of football,” Carragher said. “I was a role model, people looked up to me.”
A lively on-air partnership has been formed with former Manchester United rival Gary Neville, who backed Carragher to keep his job.
“No excuses he’s made a big mistake,” Neville wrote on Twitter. “He’s massively passionate about football and he’s overstepped the mark and shouldn’t have reacted. I’ve been on TV for 3 years with him and imo (in my opinion) this isolated incident shouldn’t stop us working together.”
The government welcomed Sky’s decision to suspend Carragher.
“He’s right to apologize,” sports minister Tracey Crouch said. “It was absolutely disgusting.”
The swift decision by Sky to suspend Carragher comes with the European pay TV broadcaster targeted for a takeover and under scrutiny from British regulators.
Comcast, the owner of NBC and Universal Pictures, launched a bid last month to rival an offer by media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. It comes as The Walt Disney Co. tries to buy Fox for $52.4 billion on the assumption that Fox would buy out the rest of Sky.