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Football

England soccer sex scandal turmoil


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Palios: An FA secretary allegedly had a relationship with both him and Sven Goran Eriksson.
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LONDON, England -- England's soccer authorities were putting a brave face Monday on the sex scandal that has claimed the scalp of its chief executive and tarnished the reputation of national coach Sven Goran Eriksson.

The man who has taken over the reins at the Football Association after the resignation of CEO Mark Palios vowed to sort out the English sport's beleaguered governing body.

Acting chief executive David Davies emerged from FA headquarters in London's Soho Square Monday morning to tell reporters: "We have had problems in the past, we have always dealt with them, and we will deal with this one now."

He appeared to be backing coach Eriksson -- widely expected to be sacked in the scandal of a secretary who allegedly had relationships with both Eriksson and Palios.

Asked if the Swedish coach, 56, would be be "shown the red card" Davies replied: "It's not a time to talk about things like that.

"Sven Goran Eriksson is one of the outstanding football coaches in the world, that's why so many people want to hire him.

"He is very popular and highly respected by the players.

"This is not the time for that sort of language, it's a time for us to rally the staff, to rally people in football."

Eriksson flew back to London from Amsterdam Monday where he had been watching a soccer tournament.

He said nothing as he braved a media scrum at London's Heathrow airport though went to his home in North London rather than run another media gauntlet outside the Football Association's office in London's Soho Square.

There, senior executives were holding meetings to discuss the crisis -- including Davies, FA chairman Geoff Thompson and Director of Football Development Trevor Brooking.

Britain's Daily Mail summed up the developments Monday under a headline: "One-Nil to Sven."

"FA boss quits but England manager survives -- for now -- in the scandal of the lover they shared," the paper said on its front page.

Palios, 51, resigned from his £350,000-a-year ($640,000) job Sunday after The News of the World tabloid newspaper reported that an FA spokesman had offered them details of England manager Eriksson's affair with secretary Faria Alam, 38, on the condition the paper stayed silent about the same woman's fling with Palios.

"It has has been a privilege to be chief executive (of the FA) but with privilege comes the burden of responsibility," Palios said.

"Personally, I do not accept that I have been guilty of any wrongdoing. But it has been clear to me that my action tonight is essential to enable the Football Association to begin to return to normality," added Palios, a divorced father of five.

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Eriksson leaves home on Monday after returning from holiday

The News of the World printed a transcript of a phone call in which the FA's director of communications, Colin Gibson, seemingly tried to make the deal.

According to the paper, the call took place the day before it first published details of Eriksson's alleged affair with Alam last Sunday.

Eriksson had come under media pressure to resign as details of his relationship with the 38-year-old former model from Bangladesh filled page after page of national newspapers.

The FA has scheduled a special board meeting for Thursday to investigate the actions of the Swede, specifically if he gave misleading information over his relationship with Alam.

Eriksson could still be fired without recompense for gross misconduct if that is proved. But the Palios departure appeared have strengthened his hand.

British newspapers quoted lawyers Monday as saying the transcript published in the News of the World would give Eriksson a good case to sue for constructive dismissal -- making him in line for a £10 million ($18.3m) payoff to fulfil the remaining term of his contract.

Challenging tenure

Palios, a former defender with Tranmere Rovers, was a partner at the global professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers before he joined the FA.

"When I joined the FA it faced many serious challenges," Palios said. "A lot of very good things have been achieved in the past 13 months. I have had the privilege to work with an outstanding leadership team. For the time being, I intend to keep any further thoughts to myself."

His tenure has been a challenging one. He joined at a time when the FA was in the middle of internal cost cutting while it oversaw the finance of the 757 million pound ($1.37 billion) rebuilding of Wembley stadium.

That was the least of his problems.

Palios made the decision to ban Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand from the England team on the eve of its final crucial Euro 2004 qualifier in October last year because he didn't attend a drug test.

England players threatened to boycott the match in Turkey in protest, but eventually backed down and qualified for the tournament. Ferdinand was banned for nine months.

Palios was also under fire in March when he extended Eriksson's contract to 2008 -- reportedly increasing the salary to 4 million pounds ($7.24 million) a year -- three months before the European Championship.

England was eliminated in the quarterfinals on penalties to Portugal.


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