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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
England players reject boycott
England are due to fly to Istanbul on Thursday afternoon

England's players will be hoping to fully concentrate on their Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey having ended their dispute with the Football Association.

But the squad issued a statement that strongly criticised the FA over its handling of Rio Ferdinand's suspension, and denied having considered a boycott.

"The organisation we represent has not only let down one of our team-mates, but the whole of the England squad and its manager," the players said.

"We feel that they have failed us very badly."

The settlement was revealed by England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and FA chief executive Mark Palios after a tense day of negotiations at the team hotel in St Albans.

Eriksson said: "I hope we can now focus 200% on football.

"The players' attitude to Rio shows they have created a very strong unit and I am sure you will see that on Saturday," he added.

All the England players are proud to wear the England shirt and would never let England, Sven-Goran Eriksson or our magnificent fans down
The players' statement revealed their anger over the unprecedented breakdown in relations between the national team and the domestic game's governing body.

They made it clear just how badly they felt Ferdinand was treated, adding that he was "entitled to confidentiality and a fair hearing in front of an independent commission".

The statement added: "We apologise to our manager, staff and fans for any concerns that may have arisen over the past few days.

"In our minds there has never been any question as to whether we would play in this game - we will continue our preparation for Saturday's game.

"All the England players are proud to wear the England shirt and would never let England, Sven-Goran Eriksson or our magnificent fans down."

Palios adopted a conciliatory tone as the FA looks to remain on good terms with the players.

"I fully appreciate, understand and respect the support the players have given Rio. Teams do stick together," he said.

Palios also indicated the FA had agreed to review its disciplinary procedures.

Mark Palios, Paul Barber and Sven-Goran Eriksson
Palios, Barber and Eriksson negotiated with the players

But he defended the FA's stance on confidentiality.

"Confidentiality is a key issue - we are very well aware of our duty in this respect and I have no doubt we have acted entirely properly."

Ferdinand's name was released by Manchester United, not the Football Association.

England will now fly to Turkey on Thursday afternoon to prepare for their crucial Euro 2004 decider.

The winner of the match will top Group Seven and qualify automatically for next year's European Championships.

The Turkish team have admitted they are enjoying the disarray in the England camp ahead of such a crucial match.

Coach Senol Gunes said: "Them being in trouble and having low morale makes us happy, but they should solve their problems, which have nothing to do with us, by themselves.

"We have only one thought on our minds. To go on the pitch and win."




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England players' statement
"We feel the FA have let us down very badly"




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