The German defender Christian Wörns threatened to retire from international football yesterday after the criticism he took following the 5-1 thrashing by England last weekend.
"In the past week, they've tried to tear me apart. I still haven't digested it," Wörns said. "I have to think whether it makes any sense anymore to join the national team."
Wörns, who plays for Borussia Dortmund and won his 37th cap against England, has played a role before in painful German defeats. He was sent off against Croatia in the 1998 World Cup, leading to a German collapse and a 3-0 quarter-final defeat. "I've been criticised for 10 years, whether I play good or bad," said Wörns. "I am sick of it."
The Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon said yesterday that he is annoyed the club have been left to take all the flak over the on-going problem of persistent standing.
United feel they have been singled out unfairly because some of their supporters refuse to sit down during matches at Old Trafford and other Premier League grounds. Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, which is responsible for safety at Old Trafford, threatened last season to close down sections of the ground because of the problem, while Middlesbrough and Sunderland have reduced United's ticket allocation because they claim their fans refuse to sit down.
Kenyon feels the problem needs to be addressed by the relevant authorities. He would like to see the Premier League, the Football Licensing Authority and the Government get involved. "We're being used as a political pawn," Kenyon said. "Where I am feeling uncomfortable is with the way it's coming down on Manchester United, Trafford council and our supporters because the rest of the people are dodging the issue.
"The licensing authority, the Premier League and the Government should get visible on this issue."
The Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale has urged supporters to remain seated throughout matches at Elland Road or risk the closure of the ground.
Ridsdale believes fans might be seriously injured if they flout the law and choose to stand, which could lead to measures against the club. "Elland Road has been adapted for spectators to be seated, so put simply, it is not safe for spectators to stand throughout the match," Ridsdale said. "This is because seated stadiums do not have crowd control barriers. The potential therefore exists for crowd surging. Obviously, a surge in a seated area can cause serious injury – particularly so in upper seating areas.
"If we do not receive full co-operation from spectators and the club cannot be seen to be managing this policy effectively, the Licensing Authority may take measures.
"These could include reducing the capacity of an area of the stadium, fully closing an area of the stadium, or even closing the stadium as a whole."