In a statement, Shiels apologized for the “offense that [his comments] have caused “and said that he is” proud to manage a group of players who are role models for so many girls, and boys, across the country. “
Shiels’ comments came after his side had been defeated 5-0 by England in a Women’s World Cup qualifier, ending its hopes of reaching the main draw. England scored its first goal after 28 minutes and second after 52 minutes.
“When we went 1-0 down, we killed the game, tried to just slow it right down to give them time to get that emotional imbalance out of their head,” Shiels said. “And that’s an issue we have not just in Northern Ireland, but all the countries have that problem.”
His remarks were met with widespread criticism.
“I think we all know that the five minutes after you concede a goal – not just in women’s football, [also] in men’s football – you’re more likely to concede a goal, “former England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain told the BBC.” To just generalize that to women is a slightly bizarre comment. “
“Hearing a man talking about women being too emotional in this day and age, I just felt like I’d gone back 30 years, to be perfectly honest with you,” Yvonne Harrison, chief executive of Women in Football, told the Press Association.
“It’s something women have had to face for years and years right across society, not just sports.”
Shiels has managed the women’s team in Northern Ireland since May 2019, overseeing its successful qualification for the Women’s Euro 2022 – the country’s first ever major women’s football tournament.
His press conference detracted from a record-breaking night as the match was attended by 15,348 spectators – the largest crowd ever seen at a women’s football match in England.
In Northern Ireland too, women’s football is growing in popularity. In an interview with CNN Sport last year, Northern Ireland’s most capped player, Julie Nelson, said that women’s football has “changed massively” in her lifetime.
When she first started playing football at age five, there was “nowhere that you would have seen women playing – and there were no local teams where I lived.”