Northern Ireland boss Shiels in apology over 'emotional women' comment

Kenny Shiels

Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels has apologised for comments he made after his side's 5-0 loss in Belfast on Tuesday.

He said "girls and women are more emotional than men" while discussing the loss in a press conference.

The remarks sparked controversy with high-profile former international footballers hitting out.

Former deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill also described the remarks as "totally unacceptable".

The Northern Ireland Women's Football Association said it will be writing to the IFA to express its concerns, but declined to comment further.

On Wednesday afternoon, in a statement, Mr Shiels 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. "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."

The remarks cast a shadow over Northern Ireland's historic game against England. It was the first sell-out crowd at Windsor for a women's game.

In a post-match interview, Mr Shiels said: "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. "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." The comments drew criticism, with Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill and former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright posting on Twitter. Michelle O'Neill said: "Some accuse women of being too emotional for all walks of life; politics, business, sports.

"If powerful emotions of passion, hard work, resilience and determination to succeed are what’s being referred to here, then keep being class women." Ian Wright said: "Kenny Shiels talking foolishness! Talking about emotional women ! Didn’t that man see how many times I was crying on the pitch!" Former Arsenal player Alex Scott also welcomed the comments from Mr Wright.