VENABLES' STATEMENT

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The Independent Online
"I spent several hours both last night and today talking to the players about allegations made in connection with last week's flight from Hong Kong to London.

"Three of the players were very angry that they have taken the blame publicly and without justification, they believe, for the reported damage on the aeroplane. They told me they were seeking legal advice for compensation for harm to their reputations.

"Most of them appear to be totally unaware of any problems on the flight until they reached their homes several hours after arriving at Heathrow. Indeed, it was more than nine hours before the Football Association was contacted by Cathay Pacific, despite their knowledge of the problem several hours earlier.

"But today the England squad have accepted collective responsibility for what happened. The matter is now being dealt with internally - financial penalties will be imposed.

"The players express their sincere regret for the incident. Complaints about senior England players have been very rare over many years. The recent visit to Hong Kong and to China resulted in letters of praise from the hotels where the players stayed and invitations to return again.

"This afternoon, I met Graham Kelly, the FA chief executive, and Noel White, the chairman of the FA's international committee, at the team hotel. It was a pre-arranged meeting to discuss several matters; I reported on talks with the players over the past 24 hours and on the type of action I intend to take."

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