FA must avoid a moral crusade against Gascoigne

Despite the calls, England's coach should not make an example of his troubled midfielder, says Glenn Moore

It used to be harmless japes - false breasts, belching, silly haircuts. Not that funny really, but not very threatening either. Then came darker tales, the binges on food and alcohol, the mild paranoia, the occasional aggressive reaction to an over-intrusive member of the paparazzi.

Still, the damage was largely self-inflicted and the latter incidents were understandable, even for a man who appeared to court publicity while feeling imprisoned by it. Now the tragi-comedy of Paul Gascoigne has sunk to new depths. Or rather, returned to them. That Gascoigne beats his wife, as has been alleged - and not denied - is not new. He confessed to repeatedly doing so a couple of years ago when she was still Sheryl Kyle.

The latest revelation has prompted a chorus of voices calling for Gascoigne to be dropped from the England squad to be named on Friday for the game in Georgia next Saturday. Yet there was no such outcry the first time. Surely it is no less reprehensible to beat up a girlfriend than a wife.

The difference is in the timing. These allegations come when there is a new mood abroad. Politicians are scrambling to be seen as good Christians while few hearts have not been touched by the Snowdrop appeal and Frances Lawrence's call for a new moral order. Dropping Gascoigne, goes the cry, would strengthen this movement by setting an example to violent men everywhere.

Yet it would be wrong for the Football Association to be drawn into a moral crusade. Gascoigne has not been charged with any offence, let alone convicted. If Mrs Gascoigne or the police take matters further the situation changes, but it is not the FA's place to play judge and jury.

And would dropping him help anyone? Violent partners tend to take their lead from what they have observed of their own families in childhood, and from their social milieux, rather than from their heroes. Setting an example only works when rational behaviour is involved; preventing partner-battering requires expert treatment of the individuals concerned not well-meaning gestures.

That Gascoigne himself needs help is self-evident and has been for years. But he also needs to play football - more so than most players. Being part of the England squad, under the guidance of Glenn Hoddle, will be far more beneficial than sitting alone in his Scottish mansion dwelling on his thoughts. Gascoigne has taken the first step in asking Beechy Colclough, a confidant to Paul Merson and Elton John among others, for help. Now Hoddle, and his peers, can help him find the strength to take things further.

If the England team is to be picked on morality why stop at Gascoigne? Friday's squad is likely to contain a convicted drunk-driver who may well be captain, a player in constant trouble with the football authorities who was accused of breaking a fellow professional's nose barely a week ago, another who once trashed a hotel room on England duty, a recovering addict, and a number of alleged philanderers. Football reflects society.

Some believe it can also shape it but, even if that were true, it cannot do so alone. We have a Government which has been embroiled in sleaze for years, a Royal family stained by adultery and a rock industry whose icons are drug-taking drunks. Even the church has suffered a series of high- profile scandals. How much influence can a game of football have in that company?

If Hoddle drops Gascoigne it should be because he believes his mental state is not right, or because of his fading powers as a footballer, not because he is told to by the chattering classes.

Suzanne Moore,

Tabloid, page 2

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas