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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2006, 15:37 GMT
Eriksson hits back at allegations
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
Sven is really angry that they have done this in a World Cup year
Eriksson's agent Athole Still
Sven-Goran Eriksson says he is "100% committed" to England after a newspaper quoted him claiming he might leave his post if his team won the World Cup.

Eriksson, who was caught speaking to an undercover reporter from the News of the World, has also been given the backing of the Football Association.

The Swede had also divulged private thoughts on some England players.

He told the FA's website: "I've spoken with the players concerned today and been very pleased with their reaction."

Eriksson added: "I am confident my relationship with them has not been damaged in any way."

The England coach was quoted as discussing David Beckham, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Eriksson was reported to have said that Owen was playing for Newcastle only for the money and was unhappy at the club.

Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd responded: "We have spoken with the player and he has confirmed he is happy at Newcastle United."


While Eriksson re-iterated his commitment to his job, his employers were equally swift to confirm their support for him.

On Sunday morning a senior source at the FA told the BBC Eriksson's job was "not at risk in any way".

And later a statement on the FA's website said it could "confirm that England head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson continues to have the full support of the organisation."

The statement went on: "This follows conversations between FA chief executive Brian Barwick and Sven, and subsequent conversations involving Brian with FA chairman Geoff Thompson, international committee chairman Noel White and senior FA figures."

Earlier, the coach's agent Athole Still accused the newspaper of "disgraceful entrapment".

And Still told BBC Five Live that Eriksson had asked him to see if the FA would extend his contract until 2010.

It was a hypothetical conversation between two independent parties and as such has nothing to do with Aston Villa
Aston Villa statement

Speaking on Sportsweek, Still said he could not guarantee that Eriksson would be England coach until his current deal runs out in 2008.

But he said: "If the FA wants him to stay, then he will stay - absolutely.

"In fact, Sven said to me quite recently 'perhaps I've got used to this job, in spite of all the annoyances of it, perhaps you should have a word with (chief executive) Brian Barwick and see if the FA would be interested in my staying until 2010'."

Eriksson, his lawyer Richard Des Voeux and Still met the undercover reporter, posing as a rich Arab, in Dubai to discuss a consultancy role for a new football academy, a trip that was sanctioned by the FA.

During the meeting, Eriksson is said to have suggested he would consider becoming Aston Villa boss if the Arab group succeeded in a possible takeover of the club.

"The people we spoke to said they had a substantial sum of money to invest in a Premiership club," said Still.

"I mentioned Aston Villa and Sunderland. The rest of the conversation was sheer fantasy.

"At no point did Sven say he would not honour his contract with England.

"He did talk about possibly managing Aston Villa because you never know what will happen in football, but it was all hypothetical.

"There were never any negotiations, it was all just fantasising."

Aston Villa have since issued a response, which echoes Still's comments.

The club states: "It was a hypothetical conversation between two independent parties and as such has nothing to do with Aston Villa."

Still also made it clear that Eriksson is disgusted at the timing of events.

"Sven is really angry that they have done this in a World Cup year, " he added.

"I will have to read the article fully before considering whether we will take any further action."

However, the News of the World's chief sports writer Martin Samuel told BBC Five Live he believes the newspaper's actions were justified.

"It was a hypothetical conversation that demonstrates what somebody is prepared to do," he said.

During the discussions in Dubai, Eriksson also suggested he could lure David Beckham back to England if the Villa takeover were to succeed.

Samuel continued: "Sven introduces the possibility of buying Aston Villa into the conversation and then after our reporter mentions David Beckham it's Sven that then takes that conversation onto new levels.

"That is what personally I feel is the most damaging aspect of the whole thing".

The reporter in question, Mazher Mahmood, has a track record of trapping public figures in embarrassing stings.

Among other celebrities caught out by the "Fake Sheikh" are England rugby star Lawrence Dallaglio and the Countess of Wessex.

Interview: Sven-Goran Eriksson's agent Athole Still

Eriksson happy with preparation
11 Jan 06 |  Internationals


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