Out-of-control Wags may be banned in future

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The Independent Online

For the past four weeks, there has been no escaping the antics of the England players' Wives And Girlfriends, but now, it appears, an antidote may have been found. The Football Association is reported to be considering banning the partners - and their drinking, shopping and incessant phoning of their menfolk - from future tournaments.

New England manager Steve McClaren is reported to be unimpressed by their headline-grabbing antics in Germany. He is believed to have discussed the women's behaviour with Brian Barwick, the Football Association chief executive, at a meeting in London last week.

The Football Association last night insisted that no decision had been made on whether to ban the England football team's wives and girlfriends from attending future tournaments. But there were ominous signs that a clutch of red cards may be handed out.

At last week's meeting, Mr McClaren and Mr Barwick agreed that it was a mistake to let the players' families accompany them, according to The Sunday Times. One unnamed FA board member told the paper: "The Wags and all the hangers-on were definitely a problem in Germany. Sometimes I wonder where they all came from."

After knocking back Champagne and cocktails in the bars of sleepy Baden-Baden, the squad's glamorous other halves are said to have made drunken phone calls to their partners, some as late as 4am. This despite the strict regime under former coach Sven Goran Eriksson, who insisted his players were tucked up by 10.30pm prior to a match, with a midnight curfew on other days.

The tournament made minor celebrities of the Wags. Although some were already well known - such as Wayne Rooney's girlfriend Coleen McLoughlin and Ashley Cole's fiancée, the Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy - a number had their first glimpse of fame. These included Frank Lampard's partner Elen Rives and Joe Cole's personal trainer girlfriend Carly Zucker.

Mr Eriksson's decision to allow the women to stay for the duration of the tournament drew criticism. They were allowed to spend the daytimes with the England players, and were staying in the five-star Brenner's Park Hotel which was 20 miles from the team's retreat.

However, the Wags proved a welcome distraction for the reporters and photographers dispatched to Germany to cover the tournament and who struggled to find inspiration on the field. During the day, the Wags would hunt in packs for designer gear. By night, their behaviour included dancing on tables and running up huge bar bills.

For some, the instant notoriety could be a passport to new careers. They are reckoned to have been inundated with offers, from magazine deals to modelling contracts. A Wag TV show, FW Boutique, is also in the pipeline in which soccer stars' partners, including Miss McLoughlin, run their own fashion boutiques.

However, the behaviour of the women, seen by many to be taking a holiday while their fellas carried England's hopes, was viewed as an unwelcome distraction by the FA's top brass. A source close to the governing body's bosses told The Mail on Sunday: "The support of people closest to the players will not be discouraged but he [McClaren] would rather a similar situation did not occur again. The photographs and headlines were regrettable."

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