London (AFP) – New England women’s coach Phil Neville will not be punished over sexist tweets that have overshadowed his appointment, the Football Association said on Wednesday.
No sooner had the former Manchester United and England defender been named to his new position on Tuesday than old messages from his Twitter handle @fizzer18 reappeared.
They included a 2012 post that said: “U women of (sic) always wanted equality until it comes to paying the bills #hypocrites.”
In another post that same year, Neville tweeted: “Morning men couple of hours cricket be4 (before) work sets me up nicely for the day.”
Asked why he had only referred to men in his message, a reply on Neville’s account said: “When I said morning men I thought the women would of been busy preparing breakfast/getting kids ready/making the beds-sorry morning women!”
Neville, 41, appeared to delete his Twitter account after the comments were re-published.
In a statement issued Wednesday by his employers at England’s Football Association (FA), Neville said: “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.
“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.”
Later, FA chief executive Martin Glenn said the historical comments from Neville did not “meet the threshold for issuing a charge” after anti-discrimination group Kick It Out asked whether he would be charged.
In a letter to the group’s chief executive, Glenn said the FA only learned of some of Neville’s tweets on Tuesday.
Glenn added: “I can also confirm that the assessment of the FA’s integrity/regulatory team is that those comments would not meet the threshold for issuing a charge against any participants but as part of the induction process, Phil will be educated on all aspects of the FA’s regulatory functions and his responsibilities thereunder.”
Neville has also faced flak for a lack of experience of coaching in the women’s game, although he has enjoyed brief stints in the backroom staffs of Manchester United, the England men’s Under-21s and Spanish club Valencia.
The Women’s Sports Trust questioned his credentials and highlighted concerns over how the FA had come to select Neville as the successor to Mark Sampson, who was sacked in September over allegations of misconduct in a previous role and amid a racism row.
It said it was “disappointed at the apparent lack of transparency and process in the appointment of Phil Neville as the new manager for the England women’s football team.”
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