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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power