Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

SVEN'S CRISIS; Support for Players in Bitter Dispute over Rio Puts Coach at Odds with FA

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

SVEN'S CRISIS; Support for Players in Bitter Dispute over Rio Puts Coach at Odds with FA

Article excerpt

Byline: RAOUL SIMONS;PATRICK SAWER

SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON was today plunged into the centre of the bitter dispute between his players and his bosses.

The England coach is understood to have supported the squad's attack on the Football Association over their handling of the Rio Ferdinand affair.

The team issued an astonishing statement openly criticising the FA in the strongest terms for the debacle which has overshadowed Saturday's crucial game.

The statement names Eriksson, saying he has been let down by his bosses. The players say: "It is our opinion that the organisation we represent has not only let down one of our team-mates but the whole of the England squad and its manager. We feel they have failed us badly."

The unmistakable message is that players and manager are on the same side and feel betrayed by FA chiefs.

Today football insiders said that if Eriksson saw and approved the statement, he is clearly raising grave questions over his future as England boss.

A football source said: "Any sign that the England coach - who is the FA's highest paid employee - is openly siding with the players in their dispute is bound to be regarded as an example of gross dissent by his bosses."

The [pounds sterling]3million-a-year coach could now be at odds with new FA chief executive Mark Palios, who is determined to clamp down on the game's poor disciplinary record. The statement was drawn up at the end of a tumultuous 24 hours which saw the players vote unanimously to demand Ferdinand's reinstatement to the squad after he was suspended for failing to take a drug test on time.

They were furious that he had been dropped despite not having been charged with any offence or being given the chance to defend himself at a formal hearing.

The players felt their team- mate was being denied natural justice and threatened to boycott the crucial European Championship qualifier against Turkey on Saturday. …

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