Manchester United Foundation chief executive John Shiels has issued an apology to Alessia Russo following a trophy weight joke he made to her at the club’s award ceremony.
Russo was voted Women’s Player of the Year and was given the trophy at the ceremony yesterday, but the trophy handover didn’t come without some controversy, with Shiels suggesting that the award may have been too heavy for her to handle.
Second hand embarrassment from this.
Alessia looks so uncomfortable & embarrassed. Unfortunately still people out there who treat female athletes differently?????
— Conner Roberts (@ConnerRoberts_) May 29, 2023
In the aftermath of the ceremony, Shiels has issued an apology, detailing his sheer mortification at the reaction to his comments.
“Last night I had the honour of presenting Alessia Russo with the Women’s Goal of the Season award at the Manchester United end-of-season awards ceremony.
“I made a comment about the weight of the trophy which I know has caused offence. I am mortified by this and want to apologise to Alessia, her teammates, and anyone else offended.”
Russo is expected to represent England at the Women’s World Cup in the USA this summer
Shiels went on to explain that his surprise at the weight of the trophy was genuine, before saying he would have said the same thing had he been presenting the trophy to one of the men’s team, but admitted that he understood why the comment had caused so much outrage.
Russo was joint-top scorer for United Women this season in the WSL, scoring ten goals along with Leah Galton as the club finished 2nd to Chelsea.
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