Sunderland manager David Moyes faces a possible FA sanction after telling a female reporter that she “might get a slap even though you’re a woman” for questions asked in an interview last month.
Moyes, whose side are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, apologised for the comment at a news conference.
Reporter Vicki Sparks, who works for the BBC, had made no complaint at the time and the broadcaster said the pair had spoken about the exchange and resolved the issue between themselves.
Footage of the conversation, filmed on a mobile phone, was published on Monday on the website of the tabloid Daily Star newspaper. Both parties appeared to be laughing during it.
Others took the matter much more seriously, however, with shadow (opposition) sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan calling for an FA investigation.
“If you look at the fact that he wouldn’t have said that to a male reporter, and I truly believe that, I think the comments and his behaviour and attitude was sexist,” she told BBC radio.
“With the FA, part of what they have been criticised for in the past is not tackling sexism and other forms of discrimination, which needs to be stamped out across the sport.
“Fundamentally it’s a male-dominated environment that women find it incredibly difficult to break into and comments like this do nothing to encourage women,” she added.
The Football Association, which earlier announced the unanimous approval by its council of reforms to increase the number of women on the board, said it was “seeking observations” from Moyes himself as well as from the north-eastern club.
The comments were made after Sparks asked Moyes whether having Sunderland owner Ellis Short in the stands during the 0-0 home draw against Burnley on March 18 had increased the pressure on him.
Moyes said: “It was in the heat of the moment, I deeply regret the comments I made. It’s certainly not the person I am and I accept it was a mistake.
“I’ve spoken to the BBC reporter who accepted my apology and hopefully we can now move on.
“If you look at my character and personality it couldn’t be further from the truth. It can happen to managers young and old. It can be difficult being put in front of the cameras so soon after the games.”