Northern Ireland women's coach Kenny Shiels has apologised after suggesting that women are "more emotional" than men, therefore making them more likely to concede two goals in quick succession.
The comments came after England's Lauren Hemp and Georgia Stanway netted twice each while, Ella Toone also scored as Northern Ireland were beaten 5-0 in a 2023 Women's World Cup qualifier on Tuesday in front of a crowd of 15,348 -- a record attendance for a women's national side game in Belfast.
There were eight minutes separating the second and third goals, and nine minutes between the last two.
"I wish to apologise for my comments made in the post-match press conference last night. I am sorry for the offence that they have caused," Shiels said in a statement.
"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."
After the defeat, Shiels had told reporters: "I thought they were struggling a wee bit at times to open us up until the psychology of going two up," Shiels said after the defeat.
"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."
Shiels was criticised by former England players Siobhan Chamberlain as well as Arsenal great Ian Wright, who responded by posting a picture of himself crying while playing for the Premier League club.
"Kenny Shiels talking foolishness," Wright wrote on Twitter. "Talking about emotional women! Didn't that man see how many times I was crying on the PITCH!"
Chamberlain, who played 50 times for England, told the BBC: "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.
"To just generalise that to women is a slightly bizarre comment."