Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

No Mandela Snub; Southgate Slams Row over Missing Eight as 'Pathetic'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

No Mandela Snub; Southgate Slams Row over Missing Eight as 'Pathetic'

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN DYER

GARETH SOUTHGATE today described as "pathetic" claims that eight England players snubbed Nelson Mandela.

The Standard Sport columnist was among the group who decided not to make yesterday's early morning trip from Durban to Johannesburg for the meeting.

Although clearly designed as a PR exercise by the Football Association, it was made clear that the visit was purely voluntary. Southgate, Paul Scholes, Gareth Barry, Joe Cole, Danny Mills, Phil Neville, Steven Gerrard and Paul Robinson stayed at the team hotel while David Beckham and others met the former South African president.

Leeds' South African defender Lucas Radebe added fuel to the claims by expressing his surprise that the entire England squad had not turned up for the meeting to help launch the country's 2010 World Cup bid.

"I was a bit surprised they were not all there - especially to meet the greatest ever statesman," he said.

But Southgate writes in his column today: "To suggest there was any snub from the players who did not attend is simply pathetic. …

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