Pressure is on England coach Hoddle to quit, for his sins

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The Independent Online
PRESSURE WAS mounting last night for Glenn Hoddle, the England football coach, to quit following his remarks about disabled people.

Government ministers indicated that they believed he should step down after saying that those with physical disabilities were being punished for sins committed in former lives. Tony Banks, the sports minister, called on the Football Association to "resolve" the matter urgently. Chris Smith, the Culture Secretary, also indicated privately that he believed Hoddle, in the job since 1996, should stand down.

But the FA insisted that Hoddle had its continuing support and that he would be conducting England business as usual this week.

Earlier, in a television interview, Hoddle claimed that his remarks, published in the Times yesterday, had been "misconstrued, misunderstood and misinterpreted".

The Times reported him as saying: "You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and half-decent brains. Some people have not been born like that for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime ... It is not only people with disabilities. What you sow you have to reap. You have to look at things that happened in your life and ask why. It comes around."

Hoddle's remarks triggered a furious response from disabled groups, which insisted he should resign. "It is disgusting for a man in his position to be talking like this," said Freda Murray, chairwoman of the Disabled Supporters' Association.

But on BBC's Grandstand yesterday, Hoddle said he had not meant to cause offence. "The man asked me about reincarnation. I tried to give him an example of why people are sometimes born into poverty," he said. "There is an imbalance, an injustice ... For someone to go and misconstrue this about disabled people is outrageous."

t The trouble with Glenn, page 3; Leading article, page 24; Sport, section 2