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English football face corruption issues

Published:Thursday | September 29, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Allardyce

MANCHESTER, England (AP):

When lecturing FIFA on ethics, English soccer leaders look like the moral arbiters of the game.

It's an attitude that gives the English Football Association little wiggle room when problems land on its own doorstep.

So once the England team manager's integrity was damaged by unguarded comments to undercover reporters about illegal transfer practises, while attempting to cash in on his prestigious job, Sam Allardyce's position was untenable. Allardyce's contract was terminated after 67 days and one game in charge.

"If we are going to be opinionated on how people behave in football in England and internationally we have to live the high standards ourselves," FA chairman Greg Clarke said. "A problem came. We dealt with it quickly."

But the problems aren't going away. Far from it, with further allegations of wrongdoing emerging and pressure to act from the government.

The latest installment of the Daily Telegraph investigation filmed an agent accusing 10 managers, which it did not name, of taking bribes linked to player transfers. Such corruption has long been suspected in England, which hosts the world's richest domestic football competition in the Premier League.

"The vast number of Premier League transfers, loans and contract re-negotiations involving large sums of money, combined with the greed of those involved in the deals, give rise to corruption," Liz Ellen, head of sports at law firm Mishcon de Reya, told The Associated Press.

There is one quick fix.

"There should be a separation of powers," Ellen said. "Managers and players should not have the same agents as this creates conflicts of interests and appearances of bias or conflict which are difficult to overcome."

The League Managers Association said it is taking the allegations of bribery "very seriously as they are obviously damaging to the game."

damaged image

There's more damage to come, with the Telegraph promising further revelations about LMA members.

The first video was published on Monday, showing Allardyce appearing to offer advice to fictitious businessmen on how to sidestep an outlawed player transfer practise and also to negotiate a 400,000-pound public-speaking contract to top up an annual England salary of 3 million pounds.

A further recording showed Allardyce mocking predecessor Roy Hodgson, who was fired after England's humiliating loss to tiny Iceland at the European Championship in June, questioning the FA's financial strategy, and talking dismissively about the organisation's president, Prince William.

"On reflection it was a silly thing to do," Allardyce said outside his home near the northern English city of Manchester on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, it was an error of judgement on my behalf and I've paid the consequences."

Allardyce was heading for the airport to escape England and to reflect on becoming the shortest-serving manager of the team.

The FA and England's leagues responded, saying in a joint statement that the allegations from the newspaper stings "will be investigated with the full force of the rules at our disposal."

"Should we find any evidence of criminality," the statement said, "we would inform and seek the support of the appropriate statutory authorities."