The Football Association's chief executive, Mark Palios, has spoken about the Rio Ferdinand affair for the first time, insisting he was not looking to make an example of the Manchester United defender's failure to attend a drugs test.
Ferdinand is appealing against an eight-month ban imposed by the FA and the United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, had suggested that Palios wanted to make his mark with a high-profile case.
Palios, the former Tranmere player who took over the post in August, countered yesterday: "I didn't set out for a fight, as Sir Alex Ferguson may have thought I wanted. I wasn't looking for a test case."
On the threat by England players to strike in support of Ferdinand, he added: "I wasn't happy with the way I felt that team spirit had been manipulated to serve another agenda. I believe in reality the players always knew they were going to get on the plane."Reuse content