Neville escapes FA action and will hope worst is over
New England Women manager faced criticism on Wednesday over historical tweets.
England Women’s new head coach Phil Neville will hope to avoid further criticism after escaping punishment by the Football Association over historical tweets deemed to be sexist.
Campaign group Kick It Out branded Neville’s tweets from 2011 and 2012 “misogynistic and sexist”, but FA chief executive Martin Glenn said Neville’s comments did not “meet the threshold for issuing a charge”.
Neville, 41, avoided facing disciplinary action from his employers on his first full day in his new job, but criticism of the former England defender and the FA itself rained in on Wednesday.
An apology from Neville was drowned out by a chorus of disapproval of the decision to appoint him, given his complete lack of experience in the women’s game, and by many who considered his Twitter comments distasteful.
FA letter to Kick It Out. pic.twitter.com/iLbJMe3Euu— FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) January 24, 2018
Neville tweeted in 2012 he did not expect women to have read his posts in a morning because they would be “preparing breakfast/getting kids ready/making the beds”.
It was also widely reported that in 2011 he tweeted he “just battered the wife!!! Feel better now!”.
Kick It Out chief executive Roisin Wood highlighted cases of the FA taking retrospective action over social media posts, and said: “The question must now be asked – will the FA be charging Neville for posting discriminatory comments on social media?”
Following the appointment of Phil Neville as the Head Coach of the England Women's Senior Team, Roisin Wood, CEO of Kick It Out, has made the following statement: https://t.co/2fM0ePiHtv pic.twitter.com/YcRuXghs7V— Kick It Out (@kickitout) January 24, 2018
In a letter to Wood, 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.”
The Female Coaching Network said the FA had got its appointment “mind-blowingly wrong” and Women’s Aid also joined in the condemnation, saying such comments “can actually be extremely harmful.”
In a statement released on an FA Twitter account – he voluntarily deactivated his own – 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.”
[2/2] “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.”— FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) January 24, 2018
Neville’s wife Julie defended her husband in an Instagram post, describing him as “the most honest, kind, generous, gentle and hard-working man I have ever met”.
Sports minister Tracey Crouch said the FA needed to show transparency, welcomed Neville’s apology and said: “Sexism of any kind must not be tolerated.”