London (AFP) – Northern Ireland women’s team boss Kenny Shiels has apologised after he came under fire for claiming female footballers concede goals in clusters because they are “more emotional than men”.

Shiels made the comment after watching his side concede four goals in 27 second-half minutes during Tuesday’s 5-0 World Cup qualifying defeat by England in Belfast.

England are on the brink of reaching next year’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand after eight straight wins but Northern Ireland’s hopes have been extinguished.

Speaking after the match, Shiels 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 girls and women are more emotional than men, so they take a goal going in not very well.”

Those remarks drew criticism from former England players Ian Wright and Siobhan Chamberlain. 

Shiels said Wednesday he was “sorry for the offence” that his remarks had caused in a statement on the Irish Football Association website.

“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,” he said.

“I am an advocate for the women’s game and passionate about developing opportunities for women and girls to flourish.”

Former Arsenal and England forward Wright labelled Shiels’ post-match remarks as “foolishness”.

“Talking about emotional women! Didn’t that man see how many times I was crying on the PITCH!” he tweeted.

Former Lionesses goalkeeper Chamberlain described Shiels’ comments as “slightly bizarre”.

She told the BBC that all teams were vulnerable in the minutes after scoring and conceding goals.

“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,” she said.