Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 14:19 GMT
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was also reported that Mr Blair's staff had phoned Hoddle to put his views "in context".
'I'm no freak'
She said she had spoken to Hoddle and he was bearing up well.
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."
"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
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."