The Football Association is considering contacting Chelsea to see what evidence there is that William Gallas threatened to score an "own goal" if he was forced to stay at the club. If it can be proved that the 29-year-old Frenchman, who was last week transferred to Arsenal as part of the deal that took Ashley Cole to Stamford Bridge, made such a threat, he will face disciplinary action and the prospect of being charged with bringing the game into disrepute.
The likelihood is, however, that such evidence does not exist and even if Gallas made the comment, which he strenuously denies, it will come down to a matter of his word against that of Chelsea's manager, Jose Mourinho.
The chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, Gordon Taylor, added his voice to the argument last night by saying that Gallas could take legal action against Chelsea following the statement by his former club.
Taylor said: "It is very disappointing that a player, who has been there for some time and been part of their successes, leaves the club and then suddenly has his character and reputation damaged by his former employer. Certainly, anybody who has damaging accusations made against them has a right to respond and can look to redress that legally if he wishes.
"I don't know what purpose it [Chelsea's statement] serves. We can talk about own goals from William Gallas, but this is an own goal for Chelsea. It is unnecessary and pointless."
The interest from the FA followed the extraordinary decision of the Premiership champions, who maintain that Gallas's threat was real and not simply made in anger, to release a vitriolic statement on Monday night. It accused the defender of threatening not to play, of "hawking himself around the highest bidder" and of claiming he would deliberately put the ball into his own net. Chelsea also allege that Gallas was motivated purely by money, was a troublesome influence and spurned attempts to reintegrate him into the team after rejecting a new contract.
Mourinho has become incensed by Gallas's complaints and the club felt compelled to act after comments over the weekend by the player accusing the manager of being "fickle".
Arsène Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has also stepped into the row. He is in Paris for tonight's European Championship qualifier between France and Italy, working for French TV, and intends to talk to Gallas, who will be told to calm down, keep his counsel and not prolong the feud.Reuse content