'I'm Not Sexist': Phil Neville Apologizes for Historical Comments at England Unveiling

Phil Neville has defended himself and insisted he is not a sexist after historical tweets dominated the agenda at his unveiling on Monday (January 29) as the new England women's head coach.

The FA announced the previous week that Neville, the former Manchester United and Everton defender, had been appointed to the role despite having no managerial experience.

The following day, historical comments from the 41-year-old's Twitter account emerged. In one, he suggested women would be too "busy making breakfast/getting kids ready" to read his messages.

"I had to apologize—I didn't like the words used," Neville told the BBC on Monday. "I'm not a sexist. I've lived my life right."

In another tweet, Neville joked that he had "just battered the wife." Neville's Twitter account was deleted soon after he was appointed and, while accepting the words were wrong, he looked to put them in context.

"I was on holiday at the time," he explained. "In isolation they look terrible, but it was relating to a game of sport—table tennis, basketball—on holiday with my wife. I am a competitive person, so is my wife. But in isolation those words are inappropriate and that's the reason I apologize.

"It's inappropriate as England manager, inappropriate as Everton captain like I was at the time and I apologize. It's not a reflection of my true character, the type of person that I am."

Phil Neville
Phil Neville at St George's Park, Burton-upon-Trent, England, January 29. Neville had to apologize for historical sexist tweets. Gareth Copley/Getty

The FA has come under scrutiny as Neville is succeeding Mark Sampson, the former national team coach who was sacked from his role due to evidence of "inappropriate and unacceptable" behavior with female players in a previous role.

The dismissal also came amid accusations from Chelsea and England striker Eniola Aluko, who claimed Sampson discriminated against her and was a bully.

Neville insisted that he was not a sexist and that his reputation is proof of that.

"I'm not a sexist," he said. "And if you speak to people, there are many people who have spoken up on my behalf over the last week, I think my character, particularly in my playing career, in my life, I think my character stands up to any accusation leveled at me."

He also insisted that he did not see the job as a "stepping stone" for his coaching career, saying that "any job after this will be a step down, not up."

Neville's first match in charge of the team will come in the SheBelieves Cup against France on March 3.