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Women's football

Northern Ireland women's national team boss Shiels apologises after 'emotional imbalance' comments

8:08 PM GMT+4 13/04/2022
Shiels 2022
Tuesday's 5-0 defeat in front of a record crowd at Windsor Park led to eye-raising comments from the hosts' coach

Northern Ireland women's national team boss Kenny Shiels has apologised for his comments suggesting that female players struggle with an "emotional imbalance" compared to their male counterparts.

Shiels' side was thrashed 5-0 by England in front of a record crowd at Windsor Park, sparking controversial comments from their coach that suggested their lack of composure came down to their gender.

Shiels' words have been widely condemned in the subsequent period and now the ex-Kilmarnock and Derry City boss has expressed his regret over what he said.

What has been said?

"I wish to apologise for my comments made in the post-match press conference last night. I am sorry for the offence that they have caused," Shiels said on Wednesday.

"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."

What happened?

Shiels' controversial words came in the wake of a humiliating defeat for his side in front of a record crowd in Belfast, as the Lionesses put their neighbours to the sword in a five-goal thrashing.

His analysis was met with an immediate backlash across the game, with former Arsenal and England star Ian Wright brandishing him as "foolish" for bringing gender into the conversation.

Former Arsenal and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne also slammed the comments, telling Off the Ball: “I’d be surprised if he is the manager for the next game to be honest.

“You can’t discriminate like that, it’s the one thing you don’t need in women’s football when it’s on the momentum, the trajectory (it is)."

Northern Ireland will face England again at this summer's European Championship, with the pair drawn alongside Austria and Northern Ireland in the group stages.

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