No England gambling problem, says Beckham

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The Independent Online

David Beckham has dismissed claims that card schools and gambling debts in the England squad are causing divisions ahead of the World Cup finals.

Despite stories of rifts over betting and card schools the national captain insisted it was more a case of happy families under Sven Goran Eriksson and revealed that the only game he had ever played was Snap.

Beckham said: "The banter and the togetherness of the England team is too strong to be affected by card schools. It's impossible for the players to fall out over something like that. There have always been card schools in football, certainly in every team I've played in, but there is no problem and there never has been."

Concerns over the effect on morale were first raised when it was suggested Wayne Rooney owed a bookmaker, introduced to him by Michael Owen, £700,000. It was claimed the pair had fallen out over the debt. But Beckham believes there is no rift.

He added: "People were saying there was an issue between Michael and Wayne but it's probably just because they are the two main centre-forwards that people want to say that. Wayne does not have a problem. He has just been highlighted because of who he is - that's the only reason. He also does a lot of work for charity. You get people criticising him for one thing but you also have to look at the other things he does."

Addressing fears the affair could affect performance Beckham added: "I have never seen it affect any of the players in terms of the way they've played. You saw that when the story came out about Wayne he was man of the match in the following game so he is not going to be affected by it."

Eriksson has told England players to self-enforce a ceiling of £200 per stake but Beckham is unlikely to need such self-restraint. He said: "I like going to the Grand National or horse racing sometimes to have a bit of a crack with the lads or with my wife. But I have never been a card man in my life. The only thing I've played is Snap."

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