Sports Letters: Hoddle off pace

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The Independent Online
Sir: Ken Jones ("Pouting Ince lets the side down", 7 September) qualifies his assertion that Glenn Hoddle "cannot be held to account" for Ince's stupidity and Beckham's petulance in being sent off by saying that "it is the coach who sets the standard of behaviour".

The trouble is that Mr Hoddle doesn't know what the standards are. Witness his saying at the time, and in his absurd book, that Beckham didn't deserve a red card (why wasn't he kept informed of the changing currents in the World Cup?)

It is true that Beckham's retaliation fell short of "misconduct of an extreme nature", the term David Ager uses in his refereeing book to define violent conduct, the second of seven sending-off offences. Beckham was responding to a quadruple offence by Simeone, the violent tackle-from- behind-element also requiring, according to Ager's book, a sending-off. Certainly the two players should have received the same punishment.

Such equity, Mr Hoddle should have known, would be unlikely in the World Cup. The Beckham and Ince cases suggest that imposing a code of behaviour on millionaire players is beyond the fragile Mr Hoddle - come back, Sir Alf.