“The problem with women, and certainly in refereeing, certainly in football, is they have a difficult pathway if they get pregnant during their refereeing career, it can stop them a long way,” Clattenburg said.
“So they’ve got to make this choice — do they want to be pregnant, have children, or do they want to be referees?”
He later added: “Women have to make that sacrifice because if they want to be pregnant — say they get to a certain level in refereeing and then they want to get to that next level — if you become pregnant, it can cost you two or three years of your life. Once you lose that three years, somebody else takes your position.”
“Women in all professions face challenges in balancing work and family,” said Purdon.
“So do many men — but for men, this is never seen as a problem, and men are never expected to choose between the two.
“In fact, many women in elite sport are in a position to resume their sporting careers quickly after giving birth. Others take more time out — by choice or by necessity. Neither of these scenarios is a ‘problem.’
“The real problem is assumptions about female biology, and gender roles in childcare, which are lazy, outdated or plain false.”
Clattenburg also said that a lot of female referees “struggle with the men’s fitness test” and added: “Certainly, when you have a baby, you’re out nine, 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.”
Rugby player Joe Marler, who was playing for Harlequins when Cox made her Premiership debut at the weekend, later tweeted: “Clattenburg’s response to my question about female referees in football on @talkSPORT this morning was disrespectful and archaic.”
CNN has been unable to obtain a response from Clattenburg to the criticism.