Phil Neville's tweets 'should have been taken more seriously'

Phil Neville smiling Image copyright Getty Images

The Football Association should have taken Phil Neville's tweets more seriously, according to the founder of the Female Coaching Network.

The new England women's boss has deleted his Twitter account and apologised after tweets from 2012 resurfaced.

They appeared to be offensive to women.

Neville should be asked by the FA about his "attitude" towards women's equality, Vicki Huyton says, while more research also should've been done.

"I'm certainly not defending the comments that Phil has tweeted, but I do think the FA should have been more diligent in going through his social media," the coach tells Newsbeat.

"With the way the world is campaigning for women's rights and the #metoo movement, I actually think the FA should have taken those tweets more seriously."

Vicki, whose Female Coaching Network aims to create coaching opportunities for women around the world, says the FA's response to Neville's tweets shows they haven't handled the appointment well.

The 41-year-old has since apologised, saying his comments are not "a true and genuine reflection of either my character or beliefs".

FA chief executive Martin Glenn said background checks on Neville "highlighted some but not all the historic social media comments".

The England manager will not be charged, he added.

'The wrong coach'

But there were questions about the appointment before the old tweets emerged, and Vicki doesn't think it's a good one for the Lionesses.

Image copyright Vicki Huyton
Image caption Vicki started off coaching athletics before going on to create the Female Coaching Network

"I think this is bad for women's sport and almost makes the women's game of football take a step back," she says.

"Whilst it would be great to have a female coach - and there are plenty of women that would fit the criteria - I think the bigger point is they've appointed the wrong coach and it's an insult towards male and female coaches," says Vicki.

The appointment has attracted controversy because while Neville has played 59 times for England, and coached at both Manchester United and Valencia, he's only ever managed one game of football - for Salford City, a team he co-owns.

"If this was the men's team, there's no way on earth the FA would be appointing a head coach who had not either coached successfully in the Premier League or the Championship, or at an Italian, German or French club," Vicki says.

Image copyright Vicki Huyton
Image caption As well as working in athletics, Vicki's also worked in both men and women's football

Neville's appointment follows a difficult time for the women's game.

Former manager Mark Sampson was sacked following evidence of "inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour" in a previous job. He also faced allegations of racism and bullying, which he denied.

Vicki says Neville's appointment shows the FA doesn't apply the same standards to the men's team as it does to the women's, despite the women's team enjoying more recent success.

But it has, she says, shown how much support there is for the women's game.

"Everyone knows how emotional people get about the men's game, but this has really shown how passionate people are that the women's team deserve the right coach, man or woman, to lead them to future success."

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