Kenny Shiels, the coach of Northern Ireland’s women’s football team, on Wednesday apologised for his post-match comments after his side’s o-5 loss to England in which he described women as being “more emotional than men”.
Shiels claimed that women’s teams tend to concede goals in quick succession in part because of an “emotional imbalance” in response to conceding once. His side conceded four second-half goals in their defeat against England as Northern Ireland’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s Women’s World Cup were ended.
“I thought they were struggling a wee bit at times to open us up until the psychology of going two up. 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,” said Shiels in the post-match press conference last night.
“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 if you watch, if you go through the stats – which journalists love to do – go through stats and you’ll see teams conceding goals in 18 and 21 minutes, and then in 64 and 68 minutes. They group them because that is an emotional goal.
The match between England and Northern Ireland was attended by a crowd of 15,348 at Windsor Park in Belfast — a record for a women’s match in the country.
The coach’s remarks drew criticism from many former England players and he apologised for his comments.
“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 in a statement.
“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,” he added.
Shiels was appointed manager of the senior women’s team in May 2019, having previously led Kilmarnock and Derry City’s men’s teams. He oversaw Northern Ireland’s successful Euro 2022 play-off campaign, which saw them secure the country’s first ever qualification for a major women’s tournament.