Thu, Jul 29, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson under scrutiny

AP , LONDON

The English Football Association has called a special board meeting Aug. 5 to consider the future of England soccer coach Sven-Goran Eriksson and FA chief executive Mark Palios.

FA board members have expressed concern about separate sexual relationships the men had with a 38-year-old secretary in the FA's London headquarters.

Both Eriksson, 56, and Palios, 52, are unmarried.

The affairs and a possible cover-up have embarrassed the FA and raised questions about the conduct of the two men and their judgment.

FA chairman Geoff Thompson said Tuesday he had opened an "urgent inquiry into the circumstances which led the FA issuing legal statements based on misleading information."

The revelations, which surfaced a few days ago in Britain's tabloid newspapers, moved to the front page of the broadsheets with newspapers Tuesday suggesting Eriksson and Palios could be fired.

"Sex, lies and a deepening crisis," a Daily Mail headline said.

England's governing body for soccer initially issued a statement last week denying that Eriksson had a relationship with Faria Alam. But over the weekend the FA was forced to acknowledge that both Eriksson and Palios had relationships with her.

"It makes us look like idiots because there was a denial and then we are told that it did happen," FA board member Dave Henson told the Guardian. ``We are left looking like mugs and that can't be right. We have been left high and dry.

"There's so many questions to answer and we will be expecting those to be answered this week. For an outsider looking in, it doesn't paint a good picture."

In his statement Tuesday, Thompson said Palios had given him "categorical assurances ... that he did not mislead or attempt to mislead the FA or its officials. I am satisfied by the CEO's reassurances."

Thompson did not indicate he had talked with Eriksson, who is reported vacationing in Sweden.

Eriksson, a Swede, was hired 3 1/2 years ago, the first foreigner to coach England. He renewed his contract earlier this year through the 2006 World Cup. He is reported to earn about ?4 million (US$7.2 million) annually.

Reports suggest it would cost the FA between ?7 million and ?14 million (US$12 million and US$25 million) to terminate Eriksson's contract.

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