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The FA’s head of women’s football backs Phil Neville

Candidates for the England women manager’s job were “unwilling” to take the role because they were “nervous of the scrutiny” they thought would come with it, says Baroness Campbell.

The FA’s director of women’s football also defended the appointment of Phil Neville, who was named on Tuesday as successor to Mark Sampson.

Sampson was sacked for “inappropriate” behaviour in a previous role.

Campbell said candidates in a “massive global search” saw the job as “a risk”.

“Having seen the way Mark’s departure was dealt with by the media – whatever the rights and wrongs of that – many were very nervous of the scrutiny not just for themselves but for their families,” she told BBC Sport.

“We actually looked at 147 candidates across 30 countries. I’m not going to name names but you could say any name in the women’s game and I could tell you we spent quality time talking to those people,” she added.

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“Many of them were interested in the role but they were not willing to put themselves into this very difficult – as they saw it – and challenging role.

“Moving your family halfway round the world and then being subjected to what they thought might be massive intrusion into their lives was a risk they were not wiling to take, and I respect that.”

Neville, 41, has coached at former club Manchester United, Valencia and England Under-21s but has only managed for one game – at National League Salford City, a team he co-owns.

“I don’t think this is a job that you force on somebody, this is a job that somebody has to want,” Campbell said.

“When you speak to Phil, you can hear he is passionate, and he believes he can work with these players to win the World Cup, hopefully an Olympic medal, and hopefully a home European Championships in 2021.

“During his interview, which was six hours long, he spoke very eloquently about his passion to help and mentor and grow women in the game – something that no-one else talked to me about with the same thoughtfulness that he had.”

‘Neville’s sexist tweet was missed’

On Wednesday – a day after his appointment – Neville apologised after being accused of posting sexists comments on Twitter in 2012.

In one tweet, he wrote that women were too “busy making breakfast/getting kids ready” to have read one of his earlier messages.

Campbell said the comments were not picked up despite “a thorough background check” that involved analysing “thousands” of social media posts.

“I’m not going to try and excuse it, it isn’t excusable, and he has apologised,” she added.

“In my experience of the man, that is not reflective of the man I’ve met.

“I watched him introduce himself with grace and care to every member of the England team. He knew every name. He is a very decent man and I feel really sorry that on his first day of the job he had to deal with this.”

News Reporter

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