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Monday, 1 January, 2001, 00:02 GMT
Moore's political arrest
Bobby Moore in Mexico
Bobby Moore's preparations were hampered in Mexico
By BBC Political Correspondent John Andrew

The arrest of England captain Bobby Moore just days before the start of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico provoked a huge diplomatic storm.

Details of the turbulent event that rocked the country have been revealed in Government documents released on Monday by the Public Records Office under the 30-year rule.

Moore was arrested in May ahead of the prestigious football tournament during a stopover in Colombia.

He was accused of stealing a gold bracelet from a hotel jeweller's shop and was kept under house arrest for two days, unable to join his teammates training in Mexico.

A conspiracy?

Telegrams from the period show that Harold Wilson's Government made frantic efforts to get England's star defender released.


You must go on doing everything you can to help
  Foreign Office telegram to Bogota

There were suggestions that the Colombian law "should be stretched" to allow Moore to be seen by a doctor and to avoid the indignity of detention in jail.

Instead, he stayed at the home of a Colombian football official.

A telegram from the Foreign Office to embassy officials in Bogota reads: "No subject matter is more calculated to arouse public interest here.

"You must go on doing everything you can to help sort out what I trust was a misunderstanding."

FA officials in Bogota sent a message to Harold Wilson warning that every minute's delay in securing Moore's release would harm the chances of success for England in the World Cup.

Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson kept busy in summer of 1970

Though less than flattering about Colombia's legal system, there is nothing in the documents to support speculation that the arrest was part of a conspiracy to thwart England's hopes of retaining football's greatest trophy.

Harold Wilson had only just called a General Election and there is no doubting the arrest had come at a sensitive time.

Weeks later he was out of office having suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Edward Heath.

Moore, who had always maintained his innocence, was eventually released and allowed to join the rest of the team for their World Cup preparations in Mexico.

His joy was short-lived, though. A fortnight later England suffered a 3-2 defeat against West Germany and were out of the competition.

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01 Oct 00 |  Wembley
1966 World Cup in pictures
01 Oct 00 |  Wembley
Champions of the world
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