Sunday 25 September 2016

O'Neill angers women's groups by quipping 'WAGs can join team at Euro 2016 - if they're good looking'

Published 25/03/2016 | 02:30

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill with striker Robbie Keane during squad training at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin yesterday. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill with striker Robbie Keane during squad training at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin yesterday. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile

Ireland soccer manager Martin O'Neill was embroiled in a sexism row last night after saying that ugly wives and girlfriends should not be allowed to visit players at Euro 2016.

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O'Neill was asked at a news conference if his players' partners would be welcome at the team base in France this summer.

"I think it depends on how good looking the girls are really," he said.

"If they're really attractive, they're very, very welcome."

O'Neill then added: "The uglier ones, I'm afraid not."

O'Neill was then told of assistant manager Roy Keane's admission that his family often enjoyed the times when he was away from home for long periods.

Again, the Derry native tried his hand at providing humour.

"I'm quite sure that's absolutely true," he said.

His remarks about wives and girlfriends followed comments from Wales manager Chris Coleman earlier this week. Coleman stated that wives, girlfriends and family members will be banned from his team's hotel during the early stages of their Euros campaign.

"There will be no family, no girlfriends, no wives in our hotel in the first period of the group stage," said Coleman.

"We have three games in 10 days and there's no time."

But O'Neill's comments sparked the ire of some women's rights groups.

The National Women's Council of Ireland described them as "sexist".

Interest

The organisation's director, Orla O'Connor, said: "There is no place for sexist comments of this nature in Irish football, particularly at this level.

"Interest and participation in soccer among girls and young women is growing in Ireland.

"The Euros should be used as an opportunity to increase these participation levels, not for comments such as these."

O'Neill was speaking as the Ireland squad prepared for tonight's clash with Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium.

Irish Independent

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