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Soccer

I love soccer, but not the soccer industry, says England's interim manager

Soccer

Gareth Southgate says he loves soccer but dislikes the industry around it as he reflects on the sequence of events which led to him becoming England’s interim manager.

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Previous incumbent Sam Allardyce lost his dream job after only 67 days and one match in charge due to his appearance in a sting operation by undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph.

Allardyce’s contract was terminated after he was filmed making a series of controversial comments to the reporters, who were posing as representatives of a fictitious Far East-based management firm. These included discussing how the Football Association’s own rules on third-party ownership could be circumvented and negotiating lucrative speaking engagements.

Barnsley assistant manager Tommy Wright was later sacked over separate allegations made by the newspaper, which ran a week-long investigation in corruption in the sport.

Southgate will oversee the rest of England’s matches in 2016 following Allardyce’s abrupt exit and while he insisted he knew little about the details of the Telegraph investigation, he clearly feels disheartened about some aspects of how the game is run.

“I have to say I’m involved in a sport that I love and an industry that at times I don’t like,” he said.

“The detail of what happened last week, I’m not too au fait with. I’ve heard names mentioned and bits of information but I don’t have the detail so I don’t think I can speculate about what might or might not have happened.

“There’s lots about the industry of football that I don’t like but it’s a sport I love, representing my country was something I loved and they’re the bits I have to focus on.

“Last week I was basically in a bunker at St George’s Park, trying to prepare everything. That’s been an interesting social experiment, to shut myself off from any comment, not reading anything. I’ve actually quite enjoyed it. Maybe that’s a route forward for players and managers.”

Southgate met with Allardyce a fortnight ago to discuss the division of players between the senior and under-21 squads and though they have not been face to face since, he has had contact with the 61-year-old.

“We’ve exchanged messages. From my point of view that was important,” he said.

“I didn’t want to be seen as someone who was waiting in the wings for an opportunity. I think Sam knew that I was there to support him in any way possible.

“It was important to thank him. The working relationship I had with him was very positive. He’s obviously got a situation to deal with now and I have to get on with leading the country forward.”

-PA

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