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Tuesday, February 2, 1999 Published at 21:10 GMT


'A victory for football'

FA Acting Chief Executive David Davies announces Hoddle's departure

The tide of opinion among disabled groups, politicians and the media is supporting the Football Association's decision to terminate its contract with Glenn Hoddle.

Mencap, the largest disability charity, said it "wholeheartedly" supported the FA's decision and branded Hoddle's comments as "dreadful".

The Hoddle File
Mencap's Head of Communications, Sarah Talbot-Williams, said: "Glenn Hoddle's exit is a victory for fair play in football and among people with a learning disability.

"It is only right that the English coach pays a just penalty for comments which caused great offence and fuelled more bigotry to those who already face prejudice."

The Chief Executive of cerebral palsy charity Scope, Richard Brewster, also welcomed the decision.

"People in high profile positions should think before they speak and consider the likely impact of their words on disabled people," he said.

Sponsors' welcome

A spokesman for Nationwide, which recently took over as sponsor of the England team, said: "We are pleased the FA have acted decisively.

"The job for us is now to concentrate on the first major event of our sponsorship, which is the forthcoming match against France."

Downing Street said Tony Blair had no comment to make.

Labour peer Lord Ashley, who was totally deaf for some 25 years, commented: "An aggressive media, a weak Football Association and his own lack of judgment have finished Glenn Hoddle.

"But it is a sad day for British tolerance and freedom of speech."

On Monday, Lord Ashley had said that the protests about Hoddle's remarks had amounted to a witch hunt against him.

Hoddle pushed

The Times Editor, Peter Stothard, said he took no great satisfaction at Hoddle's dismissal.

"It was the right decision. He had made his position untenable. A man in his position cannot go around offending people."

Monica Hartland, Deputy Chairman of the National Federation of Football Supporters' Clubs, said: "Glenn dug himself a hole and, although it appears that he jumped into it, he was, of course, pushed, and with considerable force."

"This latest oddity surely meant that the majority of the squad, apparently already uneasy with his England stewardship, would feel at best uncomfortable with him - at worst antagonistic - and an unhappy squad means unsuccessful one."

'Might of media'

Former Treasury spindoctor Charlie Whelan, now a football columnist for a Sunday newspaper, said: "It was inevitable that Glenn had to go."

Mr Whelan, who resigned as Gordon Brown's press secretary after becoming the centre of a media storm, said: "He could not take on the might of the media.

"It was not just the fact that as the England football manager he had not lived up to expectations.

"He also made the fatal mistake of talking about issues outside football."

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