LONDON • Phil Neville apologised yesterday for the sexist tweets that have overshadowed his appointment as the new coach of the England women's football team.
The 41-year-old said on Tuesday he felt "honoured" to have been given the role, but his appointment immediately became embroiled in controversy after highly dubious tweets he appeared to have sent a few years ago began to circulate, with one making light of domestic violence.
The message, which was posted via his long-standing Twitter handle @fizzer18 on July 1, 2011, read: "Relax I'm back chilled - just battered the wife!!! Feel better now!"
Another from the same account, which was sent on Dec 3, 2012, read: "U women of (sic) always wanted equality until it comes to paying the bills #hypocrites"
He deleted his Twitter account on Tuesday evening and, in a statement issued yesterday by his employers at England's Football Association (FA), he 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."
Neville, who will be in charge until 2021, replaced Mark Sampson who was sacked in September over allegations of misconduct in a previous role amid a racism row that led to widespread criticism of senior FA officials.
Neville's appointment has also raised question marks about the FA's hiring procedures, given that he has never worked in the women's game and did not apply for the job when it was advertised.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE