England have not had a great run in terms of naming managers for their national soccer teams recently. You may recall in 2016 when longtime Premier League manager Sam Allardyce was named to lead the English men’s national team that he lasted just two months on the job. Allardyce left the England team after he was caught in an undercover operation trying to work with third parties on how to profit from transfers and work around Football Association regulations. Of course, Allardyce landed back in the Premier League and currently coaches at Everton.

Now it’s the England women’s soccer team under scrutiny. The appointment of former Manchester United and Everton player Phil Neville was already controversial because he has no top managerial experience and no experience in the women’s game. Now it’s come to light that Neville has also sent tweets from his Twitter account that made jokes at the expense of domestic violence and women’s equality. Neville deleted his Twitter account once the old tweets came to light.

Via The Guardian:

Phil Neville says he feels “honoured” to have been given the job of coaching the England women’s team but his appointment immediately became embroiled in controversy after highly dubious tweets Neville appears to have sent a few years ago began to circulate, with one making light of domestic violence.

The message, which was posted via Neville’s long-standing Twitter handle @fizzer18 on 1 July 2011, reads: “Relax I’m back chilled – just battered the wife!!! Feel better now!” Another from the same account, and which was sent on 3 December 2012, reads: “U women of [sic] always wanted equality until it comes to paying the bills #hypocrites”.

Neville deleted his Twitter account on Tuesday evening and has yet to confirm or deny he sent the tweets. In the 41-year-old’s defence, it is possible he deleted the account before setting up a new one to reflect his new role, for which he has signed a three-year deal. “I’m honoured to be given the chance to lead England,” said the former Manchester United and Everton player. “This squad’s on the verge of something special and I believe I can lead them to the next level.”

Here’s some of the photographic evidence of Neville’s tweets:

Neville’s appointment came when previous England WNT manager Mark Sampson was fired after inappropriate behavior was discovered at his previous job when he coached Bristol in the England Super League.

We’ve seen something similar to this happen before when a college player gets drafted and goes to a pro team that it turns out he dissed on Twitter. Like Larry Nance Jr. and his infamous tweet about Kobe Bryant that emerged when he got drafted by the Lakers. This isn’t just a rookie teammate walking into a pro locker room, though, this is the manager of the national team.

How can Neville’s own players respect someone who tweeted out “football = men”? And the fact that these tweets from Neville are coming to light in a time when domestic violence and women’s equality are mainstream issues only heightens the sensitivity.

Neville apologized on Wednesday morning for his tweets through this statement released by the FA:

There is always a sliver of reaction in these controversies that bemoan bringing up tweets from four or five or six years ago that create controversy. But that really is an abdication of responsibility and owning what you’re willing to put your name to on social media.

Isn’t the opposite of Neville’s statement more indicative of the situation at hand? Isn’t a more accurate reflection of your character when you tweet things when you think nobody is watching? And if you’re willing to put out jokes for the entire world to see about women being hypocrites for wanting equal pay or battering your wife, then it probably means you’re not shy about sharing that worldview.

It’s hard to see how Neville can stay in this position for any length of time, and it’s just another cautionary tale to be careful what you tweet. Neville’s jokes are indefensible whether in public or private, but the fact that he was obviously comfortable sharing it on social media makes his appointment with the England WNT untenable.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.