‘I let myself down’: Hayes clarifies comments on players’ relationships

Emma Hayes clarified her comments on relationships between players on Thursday, saying she “didn’t think it was right for me to use the term inappropriate”, following Chelsea’s exhilarating 3-1 defeat of Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

Hayes faced a backlash for calling both relationships between coaches and players, and relationships between players themselves, “inappropriate”, which many on social media interpreted as her saying the two scenarios were the same. The Chelsea defender Jess Carter was seen “liking” critical posts.

“Yeah, of course I’ve spoken with her,” said Hayes. “This is all I’m going to say on it. I want to be clear to everybody in the room: I don’t want to create any more clickbait headlines for you guys. I think sometimes that becomes the case when we have honest conversations about things.

“Of course I’m disappointed about that. Of course Jess and I have had a conversation today, as I have with other players within the team. [The players] know exactly who I am and they know exactly what my intentions were.”

While the manager acknowledged the terminology choice was poor and she let herself down, Hayes expressed her frustration at the comments being taken out of context.

“I have to expect that I’m supposed to be the most well-trained, non-clickbait headline coach and I let myself down yesterday,’ said Hayes. “I didn’t think it was right for me to use the term ‘inappropriate’ for the players. Nonetheless, when we have honest conversations about these things … I don’t take those things back but I have zero criticism of any player in my dressing room for anything, their professionalism, for what they’ve given to the club regardless of their status, regardless of who they’re in a relationship with [is not in question].

“I’ve been unbelievably supportive of all of the players. I’ve been a champion for equality and equity. I think, sadly, this has become a topic that’s blown up in an unnecessary way. But I cannot control social media and nor do I wish to. But I do want to say that I have an unbelievable dressing room. You saw tonight in the performance from everybody, they were extremely focused on things that matter.

“As I keep saying to our players all the time, even if we have disagreements in life, we mustn’t play them out publicly. We must have those conversations with each other. Because it’s an important thing you should do in a workplace and I think everybody understands that.”

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Hayes also took the time to defend the mishap with Arsenal’s socks, which saw the Gunners wearing megastore-bought Chelsea socks with tape over the logos. “Because of who I am, I’m not going to throw the kit man under the bus,” said Hayes. “He will be feeling terrible this evening. It’s a mistake. It’s a mistake made. Regardless, he’s a new guy into the position. It happened.

“If this was an away game we would have had white and blue, but because it was a home game we knew three weeks in advance we’d be wearing white socks, we’re the home team. But because we didn’t have blue, I couldn’t just say don’t worry about it, we’ll put the blue socks on, because we didn’t have them. We are also in a day and age where, God knows why, they cut everything out, holes, there’s a whole process within all of that.”

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