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Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 10:04 GMT


Zara's support brings Hoddle to tears

Hoddle makes all the front pages once again

Glenn Hoddle has told how his daughter's letter of support to the BBC has helped him through his sacking as England coach.

The Hoddle File
Hoddle opened his heart to the Mirror newspaper for the second time in two days as Fleet Street analysed Tuesday's sacking over his comments about the disabled.

He said he was reduced to tears when he heard that 13-year-old Zara had launched a public campaign to save him from the axe.

"Today was one of the saddest days of my life but Zara's support helped me through it," he says in the interview.

"I had managed to hold myself together throughout all this but that was the last straw. Someone told me Zara had written this note and I just started to cry."

He also told the paper that he was not bitter over the sacking.

"It's a big price to pay. I've lost one of the best jobs in the world," he added.

Newspapers attack 'witch-hunt'

Elsewhere in the press, where support for Hoddle has been slight, the mood has been reflective.

Most newspapers attack the "witch-hunt" over the affair, but acknowledge that a changing society has placed new importance on the actions of public figures.

The Daily Mail's leader says: "Nothing could have saved Glenn Hoddle."

But it criticises the "witch-hunt" over his beliefs.

"Should they provoke such venom in a Britain that prides itself on tolerance?" it argues.

But The Independent, carrying the most original headline of the day "Hoddle 0, Disabled 1 (Hoddle og)", makes no excuses for the former Tottenham star.

"Hoddle should have known that any hint of controversy would be jumped on," it says.

It argues that in future England coaches should not be allowed to sell stories to the press, a key factor in eroding Hoddle's public support.

Departure 'inevitable'

The Times, which carried the interview containing Hoddle's controversial remarks on the disabled, says his departure was "inevitable".

"English football, as well as English public life, will be better without him," is its leader's blunt message.

But it also reflects on the changing role of the England coach as a public figure, responsible for diplomacy over his public conduct.

The Daily Telegraph also draws this parallel, comparing Hoddle's fate to the resignation of Paymaster-General Geoffrey Robinson and discussing the thirst for accountability in public figures.

After attacking The Times, its broadsheet rival, and Prime Minister Tony Blair it concludes that the "witch-hunt" was "insupportable".

The Sun follows Tuesday front-page headline "GO", with the equally blunt "OUT".

"There could hardly have been a more shameful exit," it storms. "He had to be booted out kicking and screaming."

Its view on the accountability of public figures is made clear from the start.

"The Sun had no hesitation in calling for Hoddle to go four days ago. Just as we called for the heads of Peter Mandelson and Charlie Whelen," it says.

"No-one can fly in the face of public opinion."

'Dangerous precedent'

Again there is support for Hoddle from the Mirror's leader, which has given pages of previous editions to Hoddle's defence.

Under the banner "A sad day for Glenn, soccer and tolerance", it says that every word of an England manager is now scrutinised.

It says the "ugly episode" will now "set a very dangerous precedent for other public figures".

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