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Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 14:19 GMT

Sport: Football

Hoddle 'hounded out'

England old and new: Hoddle (left) and Wilkinson

The former chairman of the Football Association has led accusations that Glenn Hoddle was hounded from his job as England's football coach by intense media and political pressure.

The Hoddle File
Sir Bert Millichip, former chairman of the FA, described remarks by Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sports Minister Tony Banks as "unforgiveable".

Hoddle lost his England job after four days of intense pressure after telling a newspaper that disabled people were paying for the sins of previous lives.

BBC Sports Correspondent Neil Bennett: "The FA will want to put this in the past"
The coach apologised, saying he had been misinterpreted. His controversial spiritual advisor with whom he shares these views, Eileen Drewery, has also accused the press of portraying her as a freak.

'Difficult decision'

Speaking about the sacking of Hoddle, Sir Bert said: "It was a most difficult decision and not made any easier by the pressure that came from outside, in particular the prime minister and the minister for sport.

[ image: Low morale: Bad times at the home of English football]
Low morale: Bad times at the home of English football
"I am sure the acting chairman of the Football Association could have done without that sort of pressure."

Other FA officials have denied being under pressure and Mr Blair has sought to distance himself from the sacking and the question of a successor after initially saying that if Hoddle's alleged comments proved accurate he should resign.

Writing in the national press, sports pundits have said that Mr Blair's intervention proved the turning point in the FA's thinking.

David Davies: "We had to take a dificult decision" (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Former prime minister John Major led Conseravtive attacks on Mr Blair, accusing him of "endulging in mob mentality".

It was also reported that Mr Blair's staff had phoned Hoddle to put his views "in context".

'I'm no freak'

Faith healer Eileen Drewery: "It's been misrepresented"
Eileen Drewery whose faith healing of player's injuries was introduced into the England team set-up by Hoddle, said that she had been distressed by comments.

She said she had spoken to Hoddle and he was bearing up well.

[ image: Eileen Drewery: 'I'm protrayed as a freak']
Eileen Drewery: 'I'm protrayed as a freak'
"He's fine," she told GMTV "Under the circumstances of what has happened, he's fine."

Blaming the press for a "witch-hunt", she said: " I have been working with Glenn and footballers for more than 20 years and I have always asked for no publicity.

"He was forced to come out of the closet about me. But they (the media) twisted it all round like I was a freak or he was a bit odd."

BBC Football Correspondent Mike Ingham reports (BBC Radio 5 Live)
When asked if she did believe that disabled people find themselves in that position because of the sins of their previous life, she replied: "I believe that as you sow you reap.

"We're not saying, or Glenn wasn't, certainly not, that these people are evil. The way that the press have twisted it, that Glenn is trying to say these people are evil now, this is ridiculous, of course not."

Chorus of concern

England Assistant Coach John Gorman: "What's been said does not portray the true man" (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Despite an air of triumphalism in some of the national press, many writers have expressed concern at the manner of Hoddle's departure.

Patrick Barclay, the highly respected football writer for the Sunday Telegraph, said: "There has been a sort of awful coalition of the worst elements of the media, and supposedly the leading elements of the government.

"As I citizen I find that quite frightening."

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