Ronald Koeman criticised for post-Merseyside derby Liverpool rant and for claiming football is 'a man's game'

Jack de Menezes
The Independent
Ronald Koeman's claim that football is 'a man's game' caused controversy after the Merseyside derby: Getty
Ronald Koeman's claim that football is 'a man's game' caused controversy after the Merseyside derby: Getty

Ronald Koeman landed himself in the centre of a sexism storm after claiming football is “a man’s game” in a post-match rant against Liverpool following Everton’s 3-1 Merseyside defeat.

The Everton manager, who has also been involved in a back-and-forth row with Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill this week, was evidently angry with how Sadio Mane’s injury was treated, along with the behaviour of the Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp.

Koeman was also on the defensive after a nasty tackle from Everton midfielder Ross Barkley saw the England international booked for planting his boot studs-first on Dejan Lovren’s ankle, a challenge that infuriated Klopp and the rest of his backroom staff.

"It's part of football,” Koeman said of the challenge from Barkley. “I saw also some tackles from Lucas and that's all about football, but we don't make a show like the bench of Liverpool about faults, what happened on the pitch. We're different, we're more into the game and not about what happened with referees, linesmen and tackles. It's football, it was a hard but fair game and that's football.

"I don't like coaches from the bench the whole time shouting to referees, to linesmen and to make a big show about tackles... because it was one tackle and they were crazy, and even [when] they did not need a physio on the pitch. It's not what I like, it's a man’s sport and your behaviour has to be like that.”

Koeman’s claim immediately raised eyebrows, given the rise of women’s football across the globe, and a number of social media users criticised the Dutchman for his comments as well as his admission that he was “proud” of the performance despite the 3-1 defeat.

It comes after a difficult week for Koeman, having seen Everton defender Seamus Coleman ruled out for at least six months after breaking his leg while on international duty, as well as engaging in the public spat with his Irish manager, Martin O’Neill.

O’Neill was critical of Koeman’s use of midfielder James McCarthy at the start of the season following the 2016 European Championship. It triggered a response from Koeman on Twitter, in which he denied O’Neill’s accusation of mis-treatment and mocked the use of the term “master tactician” that O’’Neill used this week.

“James McCarthy began his pre-season three and a half weeks after Ireland were knocked out of the Euros. From the master tactician,” Koeman wrote.

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