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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 23, 2006

Eriksson exits Soho Square after bung grilling

Sven-Goran Eriksson was bundled into his car by four police officers and a burly security guard as he left the Football Association headquarters following an extraordinary day at the office.

The England head coach was due to meet with FA chief executive Brian Barwick and then address the governing body's Compliance Unit to discuss allegations of corruption at the highest level of the club game.

Eriksson and his agent Athole Still allegedly revealed to a News of the World undercover reporter - posing as a fake sheikh - that three top-level managers were guilty of taking illegal payments.

Asked by the reporter whether managers always get involved with transfers, Eriksson is quoted as replying: 'Yeah, and of course they put money in their pocket'.

Eriksson made no comment as he fought his way to the car, through a media scrum of around 60 journalists, photographers and cameramen packed into a corner of Soho Square.

Still, who met with Barwick yesterday and also addressed the Compliance Unit this morning, denied any specific allegations were made.

Still also denied reports Eriksson met with Barwick to thrash out a smooth exit from the job after this summer's World Cup.

'If it's the case that the FA want Sven to go after the World Cup then it is the FA who will dictate that decision,' Still told the Evening Standard.

'At this moment in time no agreement has been reached and no announcement is to be made. But if those discussions do take place, all I can say is Sven has a contract until 2008, which is a huge protection in itself.

'If it is felt it is better for Sven to go after the World Cup then it will be a normal negotiation.'

The FA has requested all details of the alleged conversations from the News of the World and Barwick admitted the revelations have 'not been good for the game'.

But Eriksson also received the FA's full backing just five months before he leads England to the World Cup.

'The FA fully appreciates the importance of supporting Sven and the England team in the build-up to and during the World Cup this summer,' Barwick said yesterday.

'We realise how important this is to every England supporter and are fully aware of our responsibility to provide Sven and the team with the best chance of achieving success in Germany. Rest assured, we are committed to doing this.

'I'd like to call on everyone connected with the game to get behind Sven and the team over the next five months as we count down to what we all believe is one of our best opportunities in a World Cup finals for many years.'

Eriksson's alleged comments have given the debate regarding bungs and transfer irregularities added momentum.

The Compliance Unit, effectively the FA's anti-corruption agency, met with Mike Newell last week to discuss the Luton manager's allegations of being offered bungs by player agents. QPR boss Ian Holloway has also given evidence after making similar accusations.

Sports minister Richard Caborn has urged the FA to set up a unit to police agents and clubs financial affairs before the World Cup.

'This would give tremendous credibility to the FA. The status quo is not an option. They have to do something about it. This is not going to be kicked out into the long grass,' he said.

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