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Tuesday, February 2, 1999 Published at 12:17 GMT

UK Politics

Hoddle's position 'untenable'

Tony Banks (right): Hoddle should go for his own peace of mind

Glenn Hoddle's position as the England coach has become untenable, Sports Minister Tony Banks has insisted.

Tony Banks: "It would be best if Glenn just walked at this stage"
Politicians, including the prime minister, have waded into the row surrounding the England football coach and remarks he is reported to have made about disabled people.

The Hoddle File
Both Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sports Minister Tony Banks criticised Mr Hoddle who is reported in an interview with The Times newspaper to have said that disabled people are paying for sins committed in a previous life.

But Downing Street later also stressed Mr Hoddle's future was not a matter for the government.

An official from the prime minister's office has also spoken to Mr Hoddle since Tony Blair spoke out on the situation on television on Monday.

Decision day for Hoddle

Mr Banks told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The real issue now is if his position a credible one?

"Quite frankly, I don't think it is and by the end of today I would be most surprised if Glenn Hoddle is still in his job.

"I just feel his position now is an untenable one. I think for his own peace of mind he ought to go, I don't see how he can do his job, it isn't a question of him being sacked, I feel now is the time for him to stand down because I don't really see how he can carry on doing his job as the national football coach."

[ image: Glenn Hoddle initially denied having made the remarks]
Glenn Hoddle initially denied having made the remarks
"I can't see how, given the weight of public opinion in sport and outside of sport, I can't see how he can possibly stay," said Mr Banks.

He said there was an element of tragedy and farce about the whole situation, including the coach's use of a faith healer, which was making the FA appear to be a "laughing stock".

Mr Banks said: "The FA is clearly embarrassed and so is football.

"Under the circumstances, I think it would be best for football and best for the England team if Glenn just walked at this stage.

[ image: Tony Blair: Hoddle's comments were
Tony Blair: Hoddle's comments were "very wrong"
"I would be most surprised that by the end of the day, and we've got to take until the end of the day, I think if he's still in that job."

On ITV's This Morning with Richard and Judy, Mr Blair said if Mr Hoddle did make the comments "it would be very difficult for him to stay".

Mr Blair added: "If he said what he is reported to have said in the way he is reported to have said it then I think that was very wrong."

Lord Ashley: "He has offended many people, including myself"
The prime minister said the outrage felt by disabled people over the remarks was understandable.

Lord Ashley, the veteran disabled rights campaigner, said he had been offended by Mr Hoddle's remarks but the coach was entitled to his opinions.

He said: "The basic question is whether you are going to sack football managers if they are not diplomatic and I think if you do sack people like that you're going to sack a large number of British football managers."

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