Share this article

Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels has apologised for post-match comments in which he described female players as "more emotional" than men. 

The former Derry City boss had been speaking after his side were thrashed 5-0 by England in front of more than 15,000 at Windsor Park.

In a statement via the IFA, Shiels apologised for the comments and the offence the caused, adding that he is an advocate for the women's game.

The defeat to England ended Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup, leaving them six-points adrift of second placed Austria in Group D.

But it was Shiels' post-match press conference that caused more raised eyebrows than the nature of Tuesday night's defeat.

"I thought they [England] were struggling a wee bit at times to open us up until the psychology of going two up," he said.

"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 women and girls are more emotional 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.

"We conceded in 48, with three in seven minutes or three in nine on Friday [3-1 loss to Austria]. We were conscious of that when we went 1-0 down, we killed the game and tried to just slow it right to give them time to get that emotional imbalance out of their head.

"And that's an issue that we have - not just Northern Ireland - but all the countries have that problem. I shouldn't have told you that."

Shiels comments went down like a lead balloon outside the Windsor Park press room.

Speaking on Wednesday morning's OTB AM, former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne said, "He's obviously thought about it - he's studied it.

"And because he's seen that maybe there's a lot of games that teams have conceded two goals in a short space of time, he's decided to put it down to a fact of 'it must be emotions for women'.

"I know a couple of those girls, and I know they won't be happy with that."

Kenny Shiels statement:

"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."

Share this article

Read more about

2023 Women's World Cup Emma Byrne Kenny Shiels Northern Ireland Women's World Cup

You might like