Australia coach Holger Osieck has apologized for his "women should shut up in public" comment that has overshadowed Australia's World Cup qualifying win over Jordan, saying it was off the record and meant only as a joke.
"I got information it created waves. That was not the intent. To everyone offended, I sincerely apologize," the German-born coach told a hastily-convened news conference Wednesday at Melbourne Airport.
Osieck was taking his seat at an official post-match news conference following Australia's 4-0 win over Jordan on Tuesday night when he jokingly accused a male Football Australia official of ordering him around "like my wife." In television footage posted online by the Australian Broadcasting Corp., Osieck then uttered the Latin phrase "Mulieres taceres in ecclesia", adding his own English translation as "women should shut up in public."
"I say it to my wife at home, it is a private one, OK," he added.
Looking at the assembled media he added: "And you record that one as well? I am going to be the darling of all Australian wives."
Osieck tried to backtrack from his remarks on Wednesday.
"To everyone who may feel offended by that, I offer a sincere apology," Osieck said. "It was off the record, it was more a funny remark.
"It was nothing against any women or whatever. Definitely just a complete misunderstanding. ... It was more meant as a joke to the journalist who asked me. There was no serious approach in it - 100 percent not."
Football Federation Australia chief David Gallop issued a statement late Wednesday welcoming Osieck's apology, saying "diversity is a strength of football and respect for all participants is fundamental."
"Football is the most inclusive and accessible sport in this nation with over 20 percent of its participants being female," Gallop said in the statement. "Women have a strong voice in our game at board and senior management level. Clearly, therefore, any comment that implies women should remain silent in public is well out of step with the values of FFA and the Australian football community."
Osieck's comments were widely reported but didn't seem to attract heavy criticism in the domestic mainstream media on a day when a sexism debate was raging between the government, led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and the opposition. While he seemed to escape a formal sanction from the FFA, Osieck said he may not be out of trouble yet.
"If my wife knows, I'll probably be in big trouble when I get home," he said.
He said as a foreigner, he had to "get used to local conditions."
Osieck and the Australia team traveled to Sydney on Wednesday to prepare for next week's crucial World Cup Asian qualifier against Iraq.
Australia is in second place in Group B behind already-qualified Japan. Australia must beat Iraq to be assured of advancing directly to the 2014 World Cup, while a draw will leave the Socceroos relying upon the result of the Oman-Jordan match the same day.
The top two teams in each group qualify, and the third-placed teams advance to a playoff.