LONDON (AP) — The coach of the Northern Ireland women’s team apologized Wednesday for saying girls and women are likely to concede multiple goals in a short time because they are ” more emotional than men”.
Kenny Shiels has drawn criticism for comments he made after his side’s 5-0 loss to England on Tuesday ended Northern Ireland’s chances of qualifying for the Women’s World Cup next year.
“In women’s football you will have noticed it, I’m sure you will if you follow the patterns,” Shiels, 65, said at the post-match press conference, “when a team concedes a goal, they concede a second in a very short period of time.
“Across the spectrum of women’s football, because girls and women are more emotional than men. So they take a goal coming in, they don’t take it very well.
In a statement on Wednesday, Shiels said he was “sorry for the offense (the comments) have caused.”
“Last night was a special occasion for women’s football in Northern Ireland,” he said, “and I am proud to lead a group of players who are role models for so many girls and boys across the country.
“I am an advocate for women’s football and passionate about developing opportunities for women and girls to thrive.”
After conceding the opening goal against England in the 26th minute, Northern Ireland conceded four more goals in 27 minutes in the second half. Shiels’ side conceded three goals in nine minutes against Austria on Friday.
Shiels, who has coached Northern Ireland since 2019 after nearly three decades of management in the men’s game, described the second goal in such a situation as “an emotional goal”.
Former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright said Shiels was “talking nonsense”.
“Talk about emotional women! Wright wrote on Twitter. “Didn’t that man see how many times I cried on the PITCH!”
Siobhan Chamberlain, the former England women’s goalkeeper, said Shiels needed to be “aware of the message your words can convey”.
“We all know – and we understand this as footballers – the five minutes after conceding a goal, the five minutes after scoring a goal at all levels, not just in women’s football, in men’s football too, you ‘ If you’re more likely to concede a goal, you’re more likely to score again,” she told the BBC.
“It’s not just in the women’s game, it’s also in the men’s game. And generalizing that to women is a bit of a weird comment.
Northern Ireland played to a crowd of 15,348 at Windsor Park in Belfast, a record for a women’s game in the country.
The team reached the European Championship for the first time and will face hosts Norway, Austria and England in a group match in July.