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Saturday, January 30, 1999 Published at 07:51 GMT

Sport: Football

More bad karma for Hoddle

Angered: Hoddle has attacked interview

The England manager Glenn Hoddle has apologised for causing offence to disabled people by his reported comments in a newspaper interview.

BBC Sports correspondent Neil Bennett: "He's had to explain his way out of a corner"
He was quoted in The Times as saying they are paying for sins in a previous life.

But in an interview on the BBC's Grandstand sports programme, he says his remarks were "misconstrued, misunderstood and misinterpreted".

"It's hurt me. It's saddened me because there is a lot of work that I've personally done to raise money for disabled charities, mentally and physically", he said.

Glenn Hoddle: I am sorry
"I'm concerned that these people out there really are believing that that is the sort of thing that I would come out and say."

Hoddle was widely criticised for apparently suggesting disabled people were paying for their sins in a former life.

The Hoddle File
The comments were reported in an interview in The Times newspaper, and sparked adverse comments from the world of sport and disabled groups.

Hoddle's employers, the Football Association, have defended him as "an excellent supporter of the disabled".

'Put him on rack'

However, the chairman of the government's Football Task Force David Mellor is among the most outspoken critics.

David Mellor on Radio 5 Live's 606 phone-in: "I feel like strangling him, he's a damn fool"
He said Hoddle's religion "appears to have become some sort of superstition from the dark ages".

Mr Mellor said Hoddle was now "on very thin ice" after recent performances and the controversial book he published after the World Cup.

Speaking later on Radio 5 Live's 606 phone-in, he told one caller Hoddle's comments were "insulting, upsetting and ridiculous" and said he felt like strangling the England boss for being "such a damn fool".

Nigel Margerison: "Hoddle says his words have been twisted"
Bob Price, Chairman of the British Paralympic Association, said Hoddle's claim was "as nonsensical as it is unhelpful".

Labour MP Anne Begg: "The remarks are insulting"
The 41-year-old manager has described The Times interview as "a scandalous and disgraceful interpretation".

A statement said: "My support and care for disabled people is well-known."

He assured them they would always have his "overwhelming support, care, consideration and dedication".

Chair of the British Council for Disabled People Anne Ray: "It undermines disabled people"
"Those charities for whom I work privately also know that," he added.

And FA spokesman Steve Double said of the coach: "We regard him as an excellent supporter of the disabled."

Karma and faith

In the Times interview, Hoddle reportedly outlined his religious belief in karma - the concept that your current existence is affected by actions in an earlier life.

The committed Christian reportedly tells the newspaper: "You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and a half-decent brain.

[ image: Faith: Hoddle shares beliefs with Eileen Drewery]
Faith: Hoddle shares beliefs with Eileen Drewery
"Some people have not been born like that for a reason.

"The karma is working from another lifetime."

He also defended his controversial use of faith healer Eileen Drewery both in his own career and as an aid to current England team members.

The Church of England's official spokesman declined to respond directly to Hoddle's comments but emphasised he was not a practising Anglican.

The spokesman said: "I think all I can say is that we are all made in the image of God, all loved by God and all equal before God."

'Insensitive and hurtful'

Lord Morris, former Labour MP and the world's first minister for the disabled, described his words as "grossly and unbelievably insensitive and hurtful" to millions of people.

Bob Price of the British Paralympic Association: "Hoddle's position must be questioned"
"Thank God that Mother Teresa, Leonard Cheshire and Florence Nightingale, among others, didn't take the Hoddle view of disabled people."

Scope, the country's biggest charity for the disabled, also condemned him for "making assumptions about disabled people".

Sports Minister Tony Banks said: "The Government policy on sport is clear.

"The enjoyment of sport whether through spectating or participating is something that should be open to all."

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