Sat, Aug 07, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Eriksson survives grilling by FA

DANGEROUS LIAISONS Sven-Goran Eriksson the coach of England's soccer team, emerged unscathed from a recent sex scandal, but three of his staff quit

AP , London

Former secretary at the English Football Association, Faria Alam, left, appears with public relations guru Max Clifford for the media outside his offices on New Bond Street, London, Thursday. Clifford is negotiating a tell-all interview for 38-year-old Alam about her flings with leading soccer officials.

PHOTO: EPA

It could be Sven-Goran Eriksson's best ever result.

Eriksson 3, Football Association 0.

After a six-hour meeting of its 12-man board, the FA issued a statement saying the Swede, who had an affair with a secretary employed by the association, "had no case to answer" in relation to how the relationship was initially denied.

Eriksson was in danger of losing a US$7.3 million a year job which runs until 2008 at least, just a month before England's first qualifying games for World Cup 2006.

Although the FA initially denied that Eriksson and 38-year-old Faria Alam had an affair, it had to make a U-turn announcement five days later admitting that one did take place. FA officials had to decide whether the Swede had misled them.

FA chief executive Mark Palios, who also had an affair with Alam, resigned on Sunday in the wake of newspaper revelations about the scandal.

The FA's director of communications, Colin Gibson, a former newspaper journalist who tried to broker a deal with the tabloid that broke the story, offered his resignation too and that was accepted by the FA.

Gibson was reported to have agreed a deal with a tabloid to give all the details of the Eriksson affair as long as Palios' name was left out.

Alam, who is having talks with a public relations consultant to sell her story to the newspapers for up to ?500,000 (US$915,000), also resigned her job.

``In the case of Sven-Goran Eriksson, the board decided on the basis of the report and on legal advice that there is no case for him to answer,'' the FA said in a statement.

Eriksson's agent, Athol Still, said Eriksson was now looking forward to continuing with his job having served England for three years.

"I called Sven immediately after hearing the news and he was going out for dinner with Tord Grip [his assistant coach].

"He just said `good,' with a nice chuckle. He is obviously very pleased and relieved. He is looking forward to carrying on with his job.''

The FA said it had accepted Gibson's resignation but had nothing to say about Alam's part in the scandal.

"In the case of Faria Alam, an employee without executive status within the FA, the board has decided it is not appropriate to make any public statement with regard to her role in this inquiry," the FA said.

"The FA announces that it has accepted Colin Gibson's resignation. The FA wishes to thank him for his services during his time as director of communications.

"This entire episode has been regrettable for the reputation of football in this country, but the board remain determined to restore the highest standards," the FA statement said.

"Deficiencies surrounding management procedures have been exposed and the Board is collectively resolved to see these corrected. An immediate review will be instituted with appropriate consultation."

The 141-year-old FA, which governs the game in England and formulated the rules of the game more than a century ago, was thrown into crisis by the scandal.

The England coach was forced to answer questions about how the FA came to first deny the affairs and later admit they had taken place. If it had been shown that he misled the FA, then the FA had grounds to fire him.

In his only comment on the scandal, Eriksson issued a statement last Thursday saying he had ``at no time either categorically confirmed or denied any relationship with Ms. Faria Alam.''

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