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Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 13:00 GMT

World: Europe

World press dumbfounded

"English God", "Symbollic guillotine", "Reincarnated crank"

England football coach Glenn Hoddle's sacking has been greeted by the world's press with a mixture of emotions ranging from apathy to shock and even indignation.

The Hoddle File
While UK newspaper editors have been climbing over each other to denounce Mr Hoddle as a sporting outcast, many foreign papers find the uproar faintly ridiculous.

Although football is very much a minority sport in the Indian sub-continent the issue of reincarnation has brought it into the spotlight.

Mainstream views

The Times of India's London correspondent, L K Sharma, told BBC News Online: "Mr Hoddle's views would be considered fairly mainstream in India and certainly would not have been cause for his sacking.

"Reincarnation was a common belief in the Christian Church for the first 500 years, until the then Pope acted against it."

He wrote: "An English God of football was sacrificed for heresy at the altar of political correctness after a furious national debate on a key doctrine of Hinduism, karma phal."

Hindu philosophy

[ image: Glenn Hoddle's spiritual mentor Eileen Drewery is at the centre of the storm]
Glenn Hoddle's spiritual mentor Eileen Drewery is at the centre of the storm
The piece goes on to point out that Hoddle's alleged beliefs - which he apparently derived from his spiritual mentor Eileen Drewery - were a transliteration of a verse from the Hindu philosophy of Gita.

He writes: "The resonance with the concepts of sanskar and prayashit was unmistakeable."

But the article says the English establishment was outraged and considered Hoddle a "fake wise man from the East, talking mumbo-jumbo".

'Why the fuss?'

The Hindustan Times has reported the story with minimal fuss but its London correspondent, Vijay Dutt, says: "I'm surprised at the furore which has been created over here".

He says: "People in India often ask 'What did a person do in a previous life to suffer so much in this one?' and there is a Hindu saying that the sins of the father are visiting on the son."

Mr Dutt said such views would certainly not necessitate the removal of an Indian cricket coach but he said that was not to say Indian sport was immune from politics and religion.

Italian newspapers also take a sympathetic approach to Glenn Hoddle's fate.

They chose to see his departure as a dismissal rather than a resignation.

Modern-day martyr

[ image: The Italian press consider Hoddle's sacking positively medieval]
The Italian press consider Hoddle's sacking positively medieval
Rome's La Repubblica, below the headline Sacked Because Of Karma, suggests Hoddle was perhaps the first man of the modern age to lose his job for his religious convictions.

It said it was surprising in the heart of a Europe which prides itself on its religious tolerance.

Turin's La Stampa chides UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for passing what proved to be the final verdict.

The paper says freedom of speech is an inalienable right and suggests Voltaire would have been terrified and disgusted in the face of the symbolic guillotine inflicted upon Hoddle.

In France, where Hoddle is still remembered fondly for his spell as a player at Monaco, there is barely disguised sniggering at the fate of English football's top dog.

French tickled

The newspaper Libèration headlined one article Un Abruti Réincarné (A Reincarnated Crank).

[ image: French press is amused by the possibility of Arsène Wenger becoming England coach]
French press is amused by the possibility of Arsène Wenger becoming England coach
Libèration's London correspondent, Francois Sergent, says he believes Hoddle has paid the price for poor results and team selection during and since the World Cup.

Mr Sergent says: "The main interest in France is the possibility that England might choose a Frenchman, such as (Arsenal manager) Arsène Wenger or (Liverpool boss) Gerard Houllier to take over.

"That would be a great story if a Frenchman was invited to show the English how to play football," he chuckled.

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