The manager of Northern Ireland’s Women’s football team has come under fire after claiming that “women and girls are more emotional than men”.
Kenny Shiels spoke to the press after his team suffered a 5-0 loss to England at the World Cup qualifier, where he explained “…in the women’s game, you’ll have noticed if you go through the patterns, when a team concedes a goal they concede a second one within a very short period of time.”
“Right through the whole spectrum of the women’s game, because girls and women are more emotional than men, so they take a goal going in not very well.”
“So, they take a goal going in not very well. When we went 1-0 down we tried to slow it down to give them time to get that emotional imbalance out of their heads. That’s an issue we have. Not just in Northern Ireland but all of the countries in the world. I shouldn’t have told you that.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the 65-year old released a formal apology through the Irish Football Association, saying he was sorry for any offence his comments might have caused.
“I wish to apologise for my comments made in the post-match press conference last night,” he explained.
“Last night was a special occasion for the women’s game in Northern Ireland and I am proud to manage a group of players who are role models for so many girls, and boys, across the country.”
“I am an advocate for the women’s game and passionate about developing opportunities for women and girls to flourish.”
Women in Football’s chief executive, Yvonne Harrison, told the Press Association that “…hearing a man talking about women being too emotional in this day and age, I just felt like I’d gone back 30 years, to be perfectly honest with you.”
“The comments are very unhelpful and not particularly inspiring to young girls and boys who were watching that game and think that’s OK to talk like that.”
Former England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain told the BBC, “I think we all know that the five minutes after you concede a goal — not just in women’s football, [also] in men’s football — you’re more likely to concede a goal.”
“To just generalise that to women is a slightly bizarre comment.”
The Guardian’s football writer, Suzanne Wrack, called Shiels’ statement on Wednesday afternoon a “non-apology”.
“Moreover, his original comment implied that this was far from an off-the-cuff theory but something he has thought about, and there are a number of big problems with that,” she wrote.
“These types of remarks cannot go unchallenged or be overlooked, even though Shiels is, by all accounts, well liked by the players and has done a good job. Football deserves better.”