Soccer-Shiels steps down as Northern Ireland women's coach

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women's Euro 2022 - Group A - Norway v Northern Ireland - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - July 7, 2022 Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels before the match REUTERS/John Sibley

(Reuters) - Northern Ireland women's manager Kenny Shiels has left his role, the country's football association (IFA) said on Tuesday.

The 66-year-old took over the team in May 2019, succeeding Alfie Wylie, and had a year remaining on his contract.

"I want to thank everyone who has backed me, and the team, during my time as manager," he said.

Northern Ireland have failed to reach the Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand but played in the Euros in England in July 2022 after qualifying for the first time.

"Kenny's impact on the women's and girls' game in Northern Ireland has been transformative. Securing that historic qualification to the Euros is forever etched in Irish FA history," IFA CEO Patrick Nelson said.

Shiels came under fire in April after a 5-0 loss to England in a 2023 World Cup qualifier when he said women were more likely to concede two goals in quick succession because they were more emotional than men.

His remarks drew intense criticism and Shiels issued an apology, with the Northern Ireland Women's players offering their support for the manager.

(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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