Women footballers are too emotional? We prove it’s MEN who succumb to a thrashing more quickly after Kenny Shiels’ controversial claims
- The Mail on Sunday looked into the Northern Ireland manager’s bold claims
- Kenny Shiels blamed ’emotional’ women for his side conceding in 6-0 defeat
- Far from more stoic, men succumb to heavy defeats more quickly than women
- Shiels apologised and his captain defended him but words caused fierce debate
He caused outrage last week when he said his women’s football team let in a quick succession of goals because they are ‘more emotional’ than their male peers.
The comments by Northern Ireland’s women’s football team manager Kenny Shiels were widely condemned – but was he factually correct?
His claims prompted The Mail on Sunday to compare the performances of men’s to women’s teams – and no one who watched Paul Gascoigne blub during the Italia 90 World Cup will be surprised by the result.
Far from being more stoic, men succumb to heavy defeat more rapidly than elite female players.
Northern Ireland manager Shiels (far left) caused ire when he said women are more ’emotional’
When on the receiving end of a comprehensive defeat, they actually let in their third, fourth and fifth goals in a shorter amount of time.
After studying all 111 Women’s Super League (WSL) matches so far this season and the opening 111 games of the men’s Premier League campaign, the MoS can reveal that WSL teams on average let in their third goal 20 minutes after their second.
When they kept conceding goals, the fourth was scored 14 minutes later and their fifth after another 17 minutes.
By contrast, men in the Premier League conceded their third goal 17 minutes after their second, their fourth 12 minutes later and their fifth 15 minutes on.
One example of a Premier League side capitulating came with Southampton’s recent 6-0 rout by Chelsea, who scored their first four goals in just 23 minutes.
Paul Gascoigne cries after being booked, which meant he’d miss the 1990 World Cup Final should England make it
Mr Shiels made his remarks after the Northern Ireland women’s team was hammered 5-0 by England last week. His team was only 1-0 down at half-time but then conceded four goals in 27 minutes.
Afterwards Mr Shiels said: ‘I thought they were struggling a wee bit at times to open us up until the psychology of going two-up.
‘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 women and girls are more emotional, so they take a goal going in not very well.’
He appeared to realise immediately that he was entering controversial territory, hurriedly telling reporters: ‘I shouldn’t have told you that.’ He apologised and his captain, Marissa Callaghan, defended him, but his comments sparked a fierce debate.
Mr Shiels may, however, have had a point when he talked about the psychology of the second goal.
The MoS analysis showed women performed ‘worse’ only when conceding this second goal.
Shiels said women’s teams concede in rapid succession as their heads drop more easily – but a closer look at the stats by The Mail on Sunday shows men’s teams are more emotional
On average, it came 23 minutes after the first while for men it was 30 minutes. Vic Akers, who managed the Arsenal Women’s team from 1987 to 2009 and was kitman to the men’s team for 22 years, said the idea of emotional differences had never crossed his mind.
‘I’ve not really considered that,’ he said. ‘I was very fortunate to have a tremendous time in women’s football with girls that were exceptional for me, not only in their standards of play, but in the way they behaved.’ But defending Mr Shiels, he added: ‘I don’t think he made that remark with any intent to bring down the girls.
‘He’s worked in the women’s game for a long while and I know for a fact that he’s very well liked in that respect.
‘I think it was a moment that he probably thinks if he could take that [the comments] back he would.’