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Northern Ireland women captain Marissa Callaghan has leapt to the defence of manager Kenny Shiels, after he was forced to apologise for controversial comments in the aftermath of their 5-0 defeat by England.

Shiels claimed women concede goals in quick succession because they are more ‘emotional’ than men. ‘I’m sure you will have noticed if you go through the patterns – when a team concedes a goal, they concede a second one in a very, very short space of time,’ Shiels said on Tuesday.

‘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.

‘When we went 1-0 down we tried to slow it down to give them time to get that emotional imbalance out of their heads. That’s an issue we have. Not just in Northern Ireland but all of the countries in the world.’

Shiels then said: ‘I shouldn’t have told you that.’

Despite criticism from Arsenal Ian Wright, Republic of Ireland international James McClean, ex-England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain and Women in Football’s CEO Yvonne Harrison, Sheils’ players have given him their full support.

Northern Ireland women have defended under-fire boss Kenny Shiels despite his controversial comments claiming women are ‘more emotional than men’

In a statement from captain Marissa Callaghan (R) on behalf of the team, she said Shiels was 'a man of integrity' and said his words were in relation to a meeting the players had with him

In a statement from captain Marissa Callaghan (R) on behalf of the team, she said Shiels was 'a man of integrity' and said his words were in relation to a meeting the players had with him

In a statement from captain Marissa Callaghan (R) on behalf of the team, she said Shiels was ‘a man of integrity’ and said his words were in relation to a meeting the players had with him 

‘In light of recent events, collectively we stand by our manager,’ she said. 

‘We feel his interview was in relation to a meeting we had as a team where we analysed that we concede goals in quick succession and emotions was one of the many things we discussed,’ wrote Callaghan.

‘Since Kenny took over our national team 3 years ago, I have always complimented him publicly on how he can get the best out of his players individually and collectively. He is a man of integrity who cares for us like we are family.

‘Kenny has transformed the game here in Northern Ireland because he understands how to get the best out of his players. We have qualified for a major tournament because he transformed our mindset.

Shiels has since apologised for his words and said he was a huge advocate of women's football

Shiels has since apologised for his words and said he was a huge advocate of women's football

Shiels has since apologised for his words and said he was a huge advocate of women’s football

‘We look forward to the next few months as we continue to prepare for the Euros this summer. Selling out the National Stadium has been a pivotal moment for the game here in NI and we as players and staff will continue as a team to help grow the game and inspire the next generation of young players and fans.’

Shiels had been explaining to the press after the defeat on Tuesday night why he believes his team concedes goals in such a short space of time – after a 3-1 loss to Austria saw them let in three goals in nine minutes.

‘In the women’s game, I’ve noticed, as I’m sure you’re aware, if you go through the patterns,’ Shields said. 

‘When a team concedes a goal they concede a second one in a very 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.

It came after Northern Ireland women were beaten by England 5-0 at Windsor Park

It came after Northern Ireland women were beaten by England 5-0 at Windsor Park

It came after Northern Ireland women were beaten by England 5-0 at Windsor Park

‘When we went 1-0 down we tried to slow it down to give them time to get that emotional imbalance out of their heads. That’s an issue we have. Not just in Northern Ireland but all of the countries in the world.’ Shiels then remarked: ‘I shouldn’t have told you that.’

On Wednesday Shiels issued an apology for his comments, saying he was hugely passionate about the women’s game and was proud to be the team’s manager. 

‘I wish to apologise for my comments made in the post-match press conference last night,’ the statement read. ‘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.’

Shiels has faced calls to stand down from his post and has been criticised by many pundits

Shiels has faced calls to stand down from his post and has been criticised by many pundits

Shiels has faced calls to stand down from his post and has been criticised by many pundits

Shiels’ comments sparked anger from a handful of former players and pundits – including ex-England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain, who called them ‘bizarre’. 

She told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘However, Chamberlain told BBC Radio 5 Live: ‘We all know – and we get it drilled into us as footballers – the five minutes after you concede a goal, the five minutes after you score a goal across the board, not just in women’s football, in men’s football as well, you’re more likely to concede a goal, you’re more likely to potentially go on to score again.

‘That’s not just in the women’s game, that’s in the men’s game as well and to just generalise that to women is a slightly bizarre comment.

‘You need to kind of take a bit of responsibility of knowing the value that words can hold and when you give post-match press conferences when you’re feeling emotional after a big game, it’s important to make sure that you’re speaking sensibly and are aware of the message that your words can carry.’

Meanwhile, former Arsenal star and Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright responded to the debacle on Twitter.

Former England keeper Siobhan Chamberlain described the comments as 'bizarre'

Former England keeper Siobhan Chamberlain described the comments as 'bizarre'

Former England keeper Siobhan Chamberlain described the comments as ‘bizarre’

‘Kenny Shiels talking foolishness! Talking about emotional women ! Didn’t that man see how many times I was crying on the PITCH!’

Shiels became Northern Ireland women manager in 2019 and has overseen a significant period of growth. Last year, the country qualified for the Euros, their first major tournament, by beating Ukraine in a two-legged play-off. That achievement came when the majority of his squad were still part-time.

But the manager has previously made headlines for controversial comments in post-match press conferences.

A series of contentious remarks, which included questioning the impartiality of the Scottish FA’s judicial panel, and touch-line bans was one of the reasons he lost his job at Kilmarnock in 2013.

A year later, while manager of Greenock Morton, Shiels was advised to stop giving post-match press conferences on advice from his doctor.

Shiels lost his job at Kilmarnock in 2013 after questioning the impartiality of the Scottish FA's judicial panel and receiving a touchline ban

Shiels lost his job at Kilmarnock in 2013 after questioning the impartiality of the Scottish FA's judicial panel and receiving a touchline ban

Shiels lost his job at Kilmarnock in 2013 after questioning the impartiality of the Scottish FA’s judicial panel and receiving a touchline ban

But just two years later he was back in the spotlight. While manager of Derry City in 2016, Shiels told reporters that international football ‘is not what it used to be’. He described Republic of Ireland players as ‘England’s reserves’ and Northern Ireland’s players as ‘England’s reserves’ reserves.’

Shiels said: ‘There’s no pride in it anymore because you could have a pint of Guinness and play for Ireland.

‘There are Italians and Scottish people playing for Ireland. When you look at the people who can go and play, the Republic of Ireland are England reserves and Northern Ireland are England’s reserves’ reserves.

‘It’s diabolical. I’ve no time for it all.’ Shiels later dismissed these comments as a ‘joke’.

Source: DUK News

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