Sven Goran Eriksson has tried to draw a line under the latest David Beckham furore, but the England captain's problems are not necessarily over. The Football Association may yet take action against Beckham following his admission that he set out to get himself booked against Wales last Saturday. A charge of bringing the game into disrepute is not out of the question.
Despite his subsequent apology, there is a body of opinion within the FA that Beckham should not get away with blatantly circumventing the spirit of the game's disciplinary procedures. Knowing an injury would keep him out of Wednesday's match against Azerbaijan, Beckham fouled Ben Thatcher with the intention of earning his second booking of the World Cup qualifying campaign and wiping his slate clean with suspension from the game in Baku.
While Beckham's apology has been widely welcomed, it may not be enough. Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa, the game's governing body, has voiced his disapproval to Geoff Thompson, the FA chairman, who said the issue would be dealt with "in the proper way". However, Thompson suggested there was no danger of Beckham losing the England captaincy.
While it cannot be seen to condone a blatant breach of the game's principles of fair play, the FA will be well aware of the power the players now wield. Beckham is held in high regard by his colleagues and by Eriksson and the FA will not want to again damage its relationship with either the players or the coach. An FA charge, with the chance of a fine and ban, is one possibility, but a statement stressing disapproval of Beckham's actions and the practice of seeking "tactical" yellow cards in general seems more likely.
"I don't know if the FA or Fifa are going to do anything," Eriksson said. "For me it's finished." However, Adrian Bevington, the FA's official spokesman, said the affair may not be over. "We will obviously have to reflect on David's strong apology," he said. "Sven will advise us of his views and then if there is something further to say on this subject that will be for the FA, collectively with Sven, to say it."
Eriksson summed up the case when he said: "I think on this occasion that David should think next time that talking is silver, being quiet is gold." Before making his public apology Beckham spoke to Eriksson. "He was sorry for the problem he had created," the England coach said. "He was surprised at the big reaction. And he was sorry for me and for the team. He apologised and wished us all good luck."
Eriksson did not approve of Beckham's actions against Wales, but, ever the pragmatist, he added: "More or less everything is OK - but don't talk. I tried to say on Tuesday that football has always been like that. How many times have you seen a player taking a yellow card because he doesn't want to play the next game?" He added: "David thought about what was best for England, I'm sure. But then if it's right or wrong it's another question."
So how could the game prevent players abusing the spirit of the disciplinary practices? Eriksson said: "You could put in a rule that if it's obvious that a player wants to take a yellow card, he'll have a caution for both the next game and the one after that - if it's obvious. But that would be hard to prove."Reuse content