FA blames new Sven stories on dirty tricks campaign

Front-page headlines yesterday alleged that the £4m-a-year coach had rekindled his affair with former FA secretary Faria Alam. The pair were said to have spent hours having intimate phone calls while he spent time in the United States in May for his team's friendly matches.

While his bosses last night were endorsing his future as England manager, the reprieve may be short-lived. Ms Alam is expected to reveal more about their relationship over the coming weeks.

Eriksson's flings have already heaped embarrassment on the FA, and the latest allegations ended a disastrous week for the England coach, which started with a 4-1 drubbing by Denmark in a friendly in Copenhagen.

Eriksson called it the team's worst performance of his four-year reign as manager.

In a fortnight, Ms Alam, who is reckoned to have earned around £750,000 in media deals last year, will find out if her tribunal claim for unfair dismissal against the FA has been successful.

The 39-year-old left her position as secretary last summer after it emerged that she had also had an affair with the FA's chief executive, Mark Palios.

Eriksson's long-term partner, Nancy Dell'Olio, who is trying to carve out a media career, will also be furious about further prying into their relationship.

She has already had to put up with her partner's affair with the television presenter Ulrika Jonsson, who once revealed that the England manager wore stack-heeled shoes which he left outside the bedroom. Now Ms Dell'Olio is said to be planning to exact revenge by publishing her own diaries.

Eriksson's camp was trying to counter the latest claims last night by saying - via friends - that he was "miffed" at the suggestions that the affair had been revived.

The version he has told his associates is that he spoke to Ms Alam just once while in New York, but she made the call. And contrary to tabloid reports ("Sven's rat it again with Faria," said one headline), he made it clear he was not interested.

The tribunal hearings earlier this year became a media circus as the inner workings of the Football Association were exposed.

Ms Alam claimed a third senior FA executive, David Davies, had made a series of "unwanted physical overtures", something Mr Davies has vigorously denied.

A friend of Ms Alam was keen to point out last night that she is motivated by a sense of justice rather than any financial reward.

"Had she sold her story about David Davies she would have made £150,000. She wanted justice. She is a very honest person.

"Sven is still very fond of her. They talk every so often. He is a ladies' man, through and through. After the tribunal she has got a bit more to say," said the friend.

Sources within the FA believe the new allegations are part of a wider campaign to bring down Eriksson.

England are well positioned to qualify from their group for next summer's World Cup in Germany, but last Wednesday's defeat - England's worst since 1980 - led some former England internationals to call for Eriksson's scalp.

Brian Barwick, the FA's chief executive, gave his continued backing to the coach: "I expect him to be with us until the European Championship of 2008.

"He enjoys the job and we enjoy having him. There is a bigger picture; we are not naive, but we are dealing with having Sven on board for some time to come."

Reports of Eriksson's relationship with Ms Alam first emerged in July last year and were initially denied. But emails between the two, proving the affair, were leaked and the relationship with Mr Palios then emerged.

Ms Alam sold her story to the News of the World and The Mail on Sunday, as well as sobbing her way through an interview with Trevor McDonald for ITV1's Tonight programme.

She has claimed damages of £30,000 for constructive dismissal and sexual discrimination from the Football Association. The judgment is due in two weeks.

ERIKSSON'S UPS AND DOWNS

UP: 1966. At the age of16 Sven Goran Eriksson won a trophy with Swedish football club Torsby FC, his only prize as a player.

DOWN: 1975. A knee injury while with Swedish second division team Karlskoga forced Eriksson to quit professional football.

UP: 2001. Became first foreign manager of England, following success at Italian club Lazio. A 5-1 win against Germany while qualifying for the World Cup silenced his critics.

DOWN: 2003. Affair with Ulrika Jonsson revealed in the press. The television presenter claimed Eriksson used the FA to book hotel rooms for their liaisons, and that he wished to escape his long-term partner, Nancy Dell'Olio, who was "sapping" his energy.

UP: 2004. Takes England to European Championships in one of the most dramatic campaigns in the side's history. England qualified without losing a game.

DOWN: 2004. Affair with the former fashion model and FA secretary Faria Alam revealed. The FA claimed the relationship was "extremely brief".

UP: 2005. Eriksson reportedly planned marriage and children with Nancy Dell'Olio.

DOWN: 2005. England suffer humiliating 4-1 defeat in a friendly against Denmark. Allegations that Eriksson is still in regular telephone contact with Faria Alam surface in the press.

Tom Anderson

Comments