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Wednesday, July 1, 1998 Published at 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK


Don't persecute Beckham, pleads Hoddle

Beckham was sent off after this petulant bit of retaliation on Simeone

Glenn Hoddle has pleaded with English football fans not to abuse David Beckham next season following his sending off against Argentina.

One result. Two nations. BBC reporters Neil Bennett in France, Daniel Boetcher in England and Philippa Thomas in Argentina.
The England coach fears that the midfielder could be a target for opposing supporters when he plays for Manchester United in the Premiership.

Hoddle insisted that there was no need to look for "scapegoats" following his side's defeat in a penalty shoot-out at St Etienne.

"This lad's got a great future for England," he said at a news conference in France on Wednesday morning.

[ image: English fans blame Beckham's sending off for turning the game in Argentina's favour ...]
English fans blame Beckham's sending off for turning the game in Argentina's favour ...
"I know football can be cruel sometimes and I think people can forget. We've got to take that on board, he hasn't done it on purpose, its a mistake he has made ... we have to learn from that mistake.

"We need to respect that young David has done a fantastic job for England in the past," he said.

Hoddle also maintained that he thought Beckham should have been shown a yellow card and not the red.

[ image: ... so do the newspapers]
... so do the newspapers
Hoddle was a member of the last England team that lost to Argentina in the World Cup, in the infamous 'Hand of God' game in Mexico in 1986. He admitted that he could not yet draw comparisons between the two.

Glenn Hoddle's final World Cup news conference in full
"It hurts, it's different," he said. "It hurts pretty much the same. There was a horrible feeling in that dressing room after the game. There was raw emotion and silence that you can't explain."

Support for Beckham has also come from Sir Bobby Charlton, a World Cup winner with England in 1966.

Sir Bobby Charlton: "He has wondeful skill and a wonderful attitude to the game."
Sir Bobby is now a director of Beckham's club Manchester United, but he admitted that some of the England fans' anger is understandable.

"I would think that in some cases its justified," he said.

[ image: Sir Bobby is backing Beckham]
Sir Bobby is backing Beckham
Everyone was so up when England took the lead, and going into the second half we had every reason to think we were going to do well. Of course the David Beckham sending off altered the whole structure of the game."

But he insisted that the Manchester United star should be forgiven: "David himself was very upset about the whole thing. I spoke to him just after the match ... I happened to catch him in the car park.

"He was very upset, but he realised the gravity of what he had done. He's a very young lad and of course all this criticism that is going to be heaped on him personally is something that is going to be very hard for him to deal with.

"He has wonderful skill and a wonderful attitude to the game. He wants to be a great footballer. Unfortunately sometimes he falls foul of officialdom and that's what happened yesterday and the consequences were enormous."

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