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Emma Hayes says she should not have called intrasquad relationships ‘inappropriate’

LONDON (AP) — Chelsea women’s manager Emma Hayes says she was wrong to describe intrasquad player relationships as “inappropriate.”

Hayes is finishing out the season at Chelsea in the Women’s Super League before she takes over as coach of the U.S. women’s national team.

In Hayes’ initial comments Thursday, she said player-to-player relationships in a team are “ inappropriate ” because they have the potential to create extra challenges to manage.

She had been asked about player-coach relationships, which she also said were inappropriate.

“I didn’t think it was right for me to use the term ‘inappropriate’ for the players,” Hayes said Friday night after Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-1 in a WSL match.

Chelsea players Jess Carter and Ann-Katrin Berger are currently in a relationship, and after Hayes’ initial comment, Carter liked a tweet that said it was “beyond bonkers” to bring player relationships into the conversation about player-coach relationships.

Hayes said postmatch that she spoke to Carter and other players about her choice of words.

The manager regretted creating “clickbait headlines” and in that respect, she said, “I let myself down yesterday.”

On Thursday, Hayes said player-to-player relationships can be hard to navigate for a coach, and that long term in an “ideal” scenario they wouldn’t be part of a team setting.

“I think when we have honest conversations about these things, I don’t take those things back,” Hayes said Friday. “But I have zero criticism of any player in my dressing room for anything, their professionalism, for what they have given to their club, regardless of their status or who they are in a relationship with. I’ve been unbelievably supportive of all of the players. I have been a champion for equality and equity.”

Pernille Harder and Magdalena Eriksson have been in a relationship for the past decade and played together at Chelsea for three seasons with Hayes as their manager. They joined Bayern Munich last summer.

Hayes is expected to make her debut leading the U.S. national team in a pair of friendly matches against South Korea in June.

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