New England Women’s manager Phil Neville has apologised a day after his appointment was announced for posting tweets perceived to be derogatory towards women.
The former Manchester United defender was confirmed as Mark Sampson’s long-term successor on Tuesday and wrote on Twitter: “Extremely proud and honoured to be the head coach of the @Lionesses and Im [sic] unbelievably excited about the challenges ahead!!”
But his profile was deleted soon afterwards after old posts resurfaced that were criticised by many as sexist.
And Neville has now issued a statement via the Football Association insisting the remarks did not accurately reflect his character.
“Following comments made a number of years ago I would like to clarify that they were not and are not a true and genuine reflection of either my character or beliefs, and would like to apologise,” the statement read.
“I am fully aware of my responsibilities as the England Women’s Head Coach and am immensely proud and honoured to have been given the role. I am now looking forward to the future and will work tirelessly to try and help bring success to the team.”
Briefly a member of the coaching staff at Manchester United and Valencia, Neville’s appointment has been widely questioned due to his lack of managerial experience in the men’s and women’s game.
Kick It Out, a prominent organisation aimed at promoting equality and inclusion in football, issued a statement expressing “serious concerns over a recruitment process that has resulted in the appointment of someone with no record of management or experience in women’s football”.
The organisation also said: “In light of recent action taken in response to historical social media comments made by current football participants, the question must now be asked – will the FA be charging Neville for posting discriminatory comments on social media?”
Watford’s Andre Gray was charged with misconduct by the FA and suspended for four matches during his time at Burnley in 2016 over homophobic tweets posted in 2012, while Everton’s Mason Holgate is under investigation over social media messages issued during his time as a Barnsley youth player.