Tag Archives: union

England players sneak headphones back on despite FA ban

Those cans are banned! England strugglers sneak headphones on despite crackdown

Laurie Whitwell


13:57 GMT, 28 March 2013



14:11 GMT, 28 March 2013

England stars' shameless tactic of wearing headphones to avoid requests for interviews from reporters following international matches appears to be creeping back in.

Ashley Young was the latest star to cover his ears after England's 1-1 draw in Montenegro – despite Football Association rules specifically outlawing the practice.

In the aftermath of games, players pass through an area known as the mixed zone where journalists wait to talk about matters of importance and interest.

Ashley Cole

Wayne Rooney

Can you hear us Ashley Cole, Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Young show off their oversized headphones last summer on England duty. They are often worn to dodge post-match interviews

Theo Walcott

Steven Gerrard

Ashley Young

There was a time when these discussions would be open and frank but then came the trend for certain players to wear headphones in order to swerve any post-game chat.

Last October, the FA issued wide-sweeping guidelines on player conduct and included a directive aimed specifically at stopping the practice. If there was a breach, it said, an investigation would be carried out by Club England.

The media clauses led to FA personnel ensuring England players did not go through the interview zone after England's match against Poland that month wearing headphones.

Mario Balotelli

It's not just England players who wear them: Mario Balotelli, Rio Ferdinand and Sergio Ramos with their cans

Rio Ferdinand

Sergio Ramos

Young, however, shuffled through following the disappointing draw in Podgorica on Tuesday. Ashley Cole has also been known to employ the tactic.

This latest headphone headache comes after last year’s Olympics ambush by Dr Dre’s popular brand of Beats headphones.

Customised versions with Union flag colours were delivered to members of Team GB, despite strict IOC rules regarding any non-rights holder advertising. Goalkeeper Jack Butland sent an ill-advised tweet praising the gear, leading to a reprimand from senior BOA officials.

Fabio Capello booked to address the Cambridge Union

Capello is returning to England… but only to address the Cambridge Union

Liv Lee


13:08 GMT, 12 January 2013



13:19 GMT, 12 January 2013

Ex-England manager Fabio Capello is probably more used to team talks than public speaking, but he will be making his best attempt when he addresses the Cambridge Union at the end of February.

The Italian is booked to appear at the historical debating society, which has hosted sporting names such as Lord Coe is the past.

Capello will be in good company, with the Dalai Lama, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Ian McKellen and Clint Eastwood all having made appearances.

Fabio Capello will address the Union at the end of February

Returning: The ex-England manager will address the Union at the end of February

The manager walked away from the England job after John Terry was
stripped of his captaincy by the FA in February last year, and since
then has been working with the Russian national team.

They are currently fighting for qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

England rugby international James Haskell is also set to address the students of Cambridge this month.

Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis condemns French clubs after Dan Lydiate leaves

They're like vultures! Wales rugby chief slams French clubs for taking top stars



17:01 GMT, 6 December 2012

The chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union has described the French clubs who are snapping up their best players as ‘vultures picking off Welsh players like pieces of meat’.

The Wales rugby team are in freefall after seven successive Test defeats and the regional game is faring little better, with diminishing gates and spiralling debts.

The comments from Roger Lewis come after flanker Dan Lydiate, the player of the tournament during Wales' Six Nations Grand Slam campaign earlier this year, announced he was to come the latest star to quit Wales for the money on offer over the Channel in France’s Top 14 domestic league.

Exodus: Welsh Rugby Union chief Roger Lewis has slammed the French teams plucking the nation's best players, including Dan Lydiate

Exodus: Welsh Rugby Union chief Roger Lewis has slammed the French teams plucking the nation's best players, including Dan Lydiate

A number of big-spending clubs are chasing his signature, with Racing Metro favourite to land the prolific tackler nicknamed ‘Chopper’.

The exodus has already seen Mike Phillips, Gethin Jenkins, James Hook, Lee /12/06/article-2244107-164D50BF000005DC-468_634x351.jpg” width=”634″ height=”351″ alt=”You too: Jamie Roberts (centre) is set to leave too ” class=”blkBorder” />

You too: Jamie Roberts (centre) is set to leave too

‘I am particularly concerned about the role played by agents in this player-drain from Wales.’

Wales and Ospreys tighthead Adam Jones has compounded the issue by refusing to rule out a move to France, too.

He said: ‘I don’t know, it is something I will have to think about.

‘I have another year left on my contract after this and obviously if you go on the Lions tour and do well then you put yourself in the shop window.

‘There are so many things you have to think about, especially when you have a young family, but I know James Hook has gone out to Perpignan and loved it.

‘I would never say never, though at the moment I am happy with the Ospreys.

‘I think we have gone about things in the right way in the last couple of years.

‘It hinders us (Wales) if players can’t get released and can’t come to the training camps. But personally I don’t think it’s a bad thing for individual players.'

Already gone: Mike Phillips has left Wales

Already gone: Mike Phillips has left Wales

Rugby World Cup 2015: England dismiss Wales offer to host showdown

England dismiss cheeky Wales offer to host World Cup showdown



14:34 GMT, 4 December 2012

Rugby Football Union chief executive
Ian Ritchie has rejected the proposal that England's crunch 2015 Rugby
World Cup pool match against Wales should be played in Cardiff.

England are the host nation of the
tournament but the RFU's bid included the prospect of the Millennium
Stadium being used for up to eight matches, including two

Cheeky: Wales want to host England at the Milennium Stadium

Cheeky: Wales offered to play England at the Millennium Stadium

England and Wales were drawn together alongside Australia in the World Cup's pool of death, with the likelihood of them being joined by Fiji as Oceania qualifiers.

Immediately after the draw, Welsh Rugby Union boss Roger Lewis suggested Wales should play England at the Millennium Stadium because 'it is the finest rugby stadium in the world'.

Ritchie's response to the WRU was a polite thank you but no thank you – and that is the message he will take to the board of England Rugby 2015, who will make the final decision on venues.

'We have a very nice home of our own and I would hope very much we would contemplate playing the match here,' said Ritchie, who is overseeing a 76million upgrade of Twickenham stadium.

'With our modest little stadium here at
Twickenham, with the further investment we might be able to make it into
a decent spot to play rugby.

'We equally believe we are very good hosts here and that we could hold a
decent game here and would very much want to do that. Shock, horror and
astonishment that I would suggest that!

'We will not get a better opportunity to inspire people to play rugby, be volunteers and participate in rugby.

'We are putting the building blocks in place to make sure we can take the most advantage of having the World Cup.'

Home: England will be determined to host the match at Twickenham

Home: England will host the match at Twickenham

England coach Stuart Lancaster is
convinced home advantage could make a decisive difference at the World
Cup and he wants to be at Twickenham, where his team were roared on to a
record 38-21 victory over world champions New Zealand on Saturday.

'Clearly from our point of view Twickenham would be our preferred venue,' Lancaster said after the draw was made.

'Before the All Blacks game I was asked about the haka and said that we'd respect it as a cultural ritual but it was also true we had 82,000 people behind us.

'We certainly felt that in the stands and I am sure (captain) Chris (Robshaw) and the boys felt it on the pitch. It was an unbelievable atmosphere. It was a special day.

'What home advantage did for the Olympians is a great example of how it inspires people to an extra five or 10 per cent and sometimes at this level that's what's needed.

'It's massive for England to have the World Cup here. For the game in general, so many people who will benefit from the tournament which will last way beyond 2015.'

Australia are the top seeds in the group with England in the second tier and Wales slipped into the third band after last weekend's 14-12 defeat to the Wallabies.

Lancaster's plan is to turn those seedings upside down by using victory over the All Blacks as a launchpad to propel England into the top two in the world by 2015.

'Our self-belief has grown, but it has to continue to grow to a point where we are consistent,' he said.

'We want to improve our rankings so that we're a top two side by the time the World Cup comes around.

'If we get to that point, we'll know we've got the consistency and inner belief to get across the line.'

Anton Shunin injured by firecracker at Dynamo Moscow v Zenit

Dynamo Moscow keeper Shunin injured in firecracker attack as Zenit match is abandoned



18:51 GMT, 19 November 2012

Dynamo Moscow goalkeeper Anton Shunin was injured by a firecracker in the latest bizarre incident to rock Russian football.

It is believed female Zenit St Petersburg supporters
smuggled firecrackers into the stadium by wrapping them in condoms and
pushing them inside their bodies.

Police arrested 53 Zenit fans and investigation is underway after the game was abandoned in the Russian capital.

Shocking: Anton Shunin was left lying in pain after being hit with a firecracker

Shocking: Anton Shunin was left lying in pain after being hit with a firecracker


Fiery: The Zenit St Petersburg fans during the clash with Dynamo Moscow

Fiery: The Zenit St Petersburg fans during the clash with Dynamo Moscow

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was left to rue 'not an incident but a crime and furthermore a premeditated crime'.

He added: 'There cannot be anarchy. People need to be put in prison for this sort of thing.'

Stewards at the stadium confirmed they found ripped condoms in the women's toilets.

Shunin required treatment to his eyes after suffering a chemical burn and injuries to his ear when the firecracker blew up.

Medvedev said it should be a priority to adopt new legislation aimed at preventing such violence from taking place.

Dazed and confused: Shunin (centre) required treatment

Dazed and confused: Shunin (centre) required treatment

And Russian Football Union chief Nikolai Tolstykh, who visited the stadium soon after the incident, said that a decision on the case would be taken in the near future.

'We will collect all the reports and documents and analyse them to investigate this terrible case thoroughly,' Tolstykh told ITAR-TASS.

Dynamo, who were leading 1-0 when the game was abandoned after 36 minutes, feel Zenit should be penalised with a technical defeat while the St Petersburg outfit insist the troublemakers were not true fans of the club.

Eye sore: Shunin suffered burns from the firecracker

They also blamed Dynamo for allowing allowing 'any people from the street' to buy tickets for the away end.

The reigning champions also threatened to boycott the national championship if the league find the Saint Petersburg club guilty.

A fourth-round Russia Cup tie between Dynamo and their local rivals Torpedo was called off in September when fans threw fireworks and smoke bombs on to the pitch.

Torpedo were thrown out of the competition with a technical 3-0 defeat in the match and were ordered to play their next three home matches behind closed doors.

Every incident raises further questions about Russia's suitability as World Cup hosts in 2018.

Lance Armstrong doping scandal: UCI complicit, claims sponsor

Sponsor claims that UCI were complicit with Armstrong in covering up doping



23:13 GMT, 5 November 2012

Disgraced: Armstrong

Disgraced: Armstrong

Pressure continued to mount on the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Monday with one sponsor claiming the organisation was 'complicit' in sweeping the Lance Armstrong doping scandal under the carpet.

Jaimie Fuller, chairman of the Australian sportswear firm Skins that has ploughed around 10million US dollars into the UCI over the last five years, says the scandal has caused reputational damage to the sponsors.

The firm has served a legal notice on the UCI claiming 2million dollars (1.25m) in compensation.

Fuller said: 'This is a ground-breaking move and it's one of those situations that could become case law for the future.

'When a sport is in trouble you look to
the international federation to help it through. It's a pretty rare
situation where the international federation is actually complicit in
what was going on.'

Fuller also claimed that UCI president
Pat McQuaid and his predecessor and honorary president Hein Verbruggen
needed to accept responsibility for the failure to deal with Armstrong,
who was last month stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

'These two gentleman have sat at the top of world cycling for 22 years and they need to be accountable for what they did and did not do,' said Fuller.

Meanwhile, British cyclist David Millar says the UCI need to make a full apology.

Millar told the Guardian:
'The UCI need to be very careful, because the momentum is rolling too
fast for them to control it. Just as with Lance Armstrong, we'll reach
another tipping point soon. I sense the same looming crash with the UCI –
unless they act decisively.

don't think they realise what everyone needs is immediate action.
They're trying to go through the usual sports politics way of trying to
ride this out until people forget about it. These are career sports
politicians. But they cannot evade this any longer. They have to act
quickly or they're going to face a total revolt and they'll be out

Under pressure: Millar demanded a full apology

Under pressure: Millar demanded a full apology

'Now there is a
public awakening and the UCI will be in real trouble unless they make a
full apology. There seems to be some unbreakable alliance between
McQuaid and Verbruggen. Pat needs to cut that cord and move forward. He
needs to wake up to the fact that some revolutions become unstoppable.'

McQuaid and Verbruggen did not respond to requests to comment on Fuller's claims when contacted.

The UCI later released a statement in which it stated steps it has taken since the Armstrong affair became public, including setting up an independent commission to examine the issues raised.

The statement read: 'The UCI can confirm that it has received a letter from the chairman of Skins International Trading AG.

'In the years that Skins have been a sponsor, since 2008, cycling has been a completely different sport from what it was during the period 1998-2005, when tests for EPO did not exist.

'Since the dark period of Lance Armstrong, cycling has been a pioneer in the fight against doping in sport under the leadership of the UCI and this role has been recognised by WADA. For example, it was the UCI that first introduced the urinary EPO test, the homologous blood transfusion test and the Athlete Biological Passport programme.

Fallout: Armstrong has been stripped of all seven of his Tour de France

Fallout: Armstrong has been stripped of all seven of his Tour de France

'As a result, today's riders are subject to the most innovative and effective anti-doping procedures and regulations in sport.

'Today, cycling has enjoyed a huge boost in visibility and popularity, as was apparent at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

'The UCI is determined to turn around this painful episode in the history of our sport. We will take whatever actions are deemed necessary by the independent commission and we will put cycling back on track.

'While we understand the concerns expressed by Skins, the UCI is determined to work hand in hand with all cycling's stakeholders towards the same goal, which is to safeguard the integrity and future wellbeing of the sport.

'The UCI has listened to the world's reaction to the Lance Armstrong affair and the USADA report and has taken decisive steps in response to the grave concerns raised, including setting up a fully independent commission.

'The UCI is determined that this independent commission will just be the start of the process and nothing will be off the agenda.'

Nick Harris: Grounds for complaint in World Cup venue "cock-up"

Grounds for complaint in World Cup venue 'cock-up'


21:38 GMT, 13 October 2012



21:38 GMT, 13 October 2012

Multi-party dispute over where matches
will be played during the 2015 rugby union World Cup (RWC) has become
'an administrative cock-up that will drag on for years' and will 'cause
inevitable disruption to the English football calendar', sources claim.

The RWC organisers, when bidding, had no set plans, let alone agreements, over which venues to use.

Hosting skills: Chris Ashton and England will be hoping home advantage pays off in 2015

Hosting skills: Chris Ashton and England
will be hoping home advantage pays off in 2015

Even now there is merely a 'long list'
of 17 possible venues, announced last Monday, comprising 12 football
club grounds and five other stadiums.

The football arenas belong to Aston
Villa, Brighton, Bristol City, Coventry, Derby, Leeds, Leicester,
Manchester United, MK Dons, Newcastle, Southampton and Sunderland. If
picked, those clubs should earn six-figure sums per game. At least seven
will be used.

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The 'major headache' is that the RWC
need clubs to sign binding contracts in the next few months to make
their grounds available on specific dates between September 18 and the
end of October 2015, when the seven-week, 48-match event will be staged.

But as the Premier League (PL) and
Football League (FL) will not even know which divisions all those clubs
will be playing in before May 2015, guarantees on fixtures are
impossible to give.

Another complication is that PL and FL
rules say football should always have primacy at grounds; and with Sky
and BT paying 3bn for live Premier League rights for three years from
next season, they will not want the RWC effectively calling the shots on

Some major clubs – Arsenal among them – considered and rejected the idea of putting themselves forward to stage games because it would have been 'incredibly complex from an operation point of view' to host rugby in a busy period.

There were also concerns that the pitch could be adversely affected. This did not dissuade the dozen applicants on the list.

'Inevitably, the tournament will go ahead with club grounds as venues,' a source said.

'That will happen because the clubs want it, and the leagues will help it happen for that reason. But will that mean disruption to football fixtures that season Yes.'

A joint PL and FL statement says 'positive' discussions have taken place about the RWC, and 'while we are not in a position to make guarantees at this time', they will work towards 'a satisfactory outcome'.

The RWC organisers have taken flak for long-listing so many non-rugby grounds and omitting Leicester's Welford Road.

But they argue they need big football grounds to cope with demand – and allow more tickets, and cheaper tickets, for fans.

Revealed: Olympic-sized burger binge is the guilty secret from London 2012

New figures obtained by Inside Sport reveal that every competitor and coach at London 2012 ate, on average, more than six McDonald's meals each at one on-site branch alone during the Games.

Some 10,000 athletes and about 5,000 coaches had access to this branch, in the athletes' village, where the fast food was dished out free by the Games sponsor – and 100,000 meals were served to them, or 6.7 each over the 17-day festival of sport.

Fast food: Athletes gobbled hamburgers

Fast food: Athletes gobbled hamburgers

Given that a significant number of competitors spent no time or limited time in the village (because they were in football squads in other cities, or in Weymouth, or non-village accommodation) the average consumption per head who did eat there was even bigger.

McDonald's has faced long-standing and well-documented criticism for promoting what many see as 'junk' food.

That so many athletes consumed it so regularly at the world's biggest sports event is hardly the best legacy message for the Games.

The biggest single day at the branch in question was 13,000 meals on August 5, or the day after 'Super Saturday'.

But the firm has declined to confirm the 100,000 Games total, with a spokeswoman claiming that is 'commercially sensitive' information.

ESPN in turmoil over rights war

The future of the ESPN sports channel in the UK is uncertain now that BT Vision has snatched the rights to live Premier League football and Premiership rugby from next year – and it is understood that further rights are expected to switch from one broadcaster to the other in the near future.

BT has made no secret of wanting a 'portfolio' of rights, especially football, and it is expected it will add several leagues from Italy's Serie A, Germany's Bundesliga, France's Ligue 1, Holland's Eredevisie and perhaps matches from as far away as Russia.

ESPN currently shows most of these and how viable its UK sports channel remains as a business, with little premium content, remains to be seen.

An ESPN spokesman says: 'We are actively pursuing a range of potential options for our business but we do not discuss private business strategy publicly. We continue to remain focused on our business and the wide range of content and coverage we deliver to fans.'

Kevin Pietersen hopes England problems are "sorted"

Pietersen hopes England issues are 'sorted' and suggests comeback in New Zealand



08:43 GMT, 21 September 2012

Kevin Pietersen is hoping his differences with the England and Wales Cricket Board are 'sorted', and he will return in time to tour New Zealand early next year.

England's prodigal batsman has been at odds with his employers for much of the summer and was eventually dropped from the Test team at Lord's when his working relationship with coach Andy Flower and then captain

Andrew Strauss broke down over 'provocative' texts sent to opposing South African players at Headingley.

In exile: Kevin Pietersen has been banished from the England set-up

In exile: Kevin Pietersen has been banished from the England set-up

Pietersen is also playing no part in England's defence of the ICC World Twenty20, which gets under way in earnest when they face Afghanistan in their first Group A match.

Instead, he is fulfilling a lucrative contract as a television pundit for the tournament and staying on the outskirts of Colombo – from where he this morning tweeted his optimism that he may soon be returning to the fold.

In an exchange with New Zealand rugby union star Dan Carter, he wrote: 'Hoping all's sorted and I'm on the NZ tour in Feb.'

Strauss, meanwhile, has cleared the
air with Pietersen after relations between them were strained over the
reported content of the texts the latter sent to South African players.

'We did catch up. It was important we did,' Strauss told Sky Sports News. 'He and I have had interesting times over the last month or two, and it was great to sit down with him.

'He apologised for a few things he
had done. We've been through a lot together and had shared experiences.
We're fine going forward.'

Clearing the air: Andrew Strauss (second left) has no issue with Pietersen

Clearing the air: Andrew Strauss (second left) has no issue with Pietersen

Pietersen's remark comes a day after new Test captain Alastair Cook confirmed he has held meetings with the South Africa-born batsman, but issues remain to be resolved before he can resume his international career with his adopted country.

Cook replaced Strauss when the latter retired last month, and will travel to India for a tough four-Test tour there without Pietersen in his squad.

England's selectors felt unable to reintegrate the superstar batsman yet, and he was also left off the list of those with annual central contracts – meaning Pietersen will be a free agent once his current deal runs out at the end of this month.

Cook said: 'I did have a meeting with Kev and I've been involved with (other) meetings as well.

the issues haven't been resolved, and that's why he hasn't been made
available for selection at the moment. Time, I hope, will be a healer
and we will be able to move on.'

England and Wales Cricket Board had no comment to make in response to
Pietersen's tweet, and Cook refused to be drawn on what the issues are.

Meetings: England's new Test captain Alastair Cook has talked with Pietersen

Meetings: England's new Test captain Alastair Cook has talked with Pietersen

'That is private, and I can't talk about it,' he said. 'For the best outcome possible we can't be talking about it. When the issue gets resolved – if the issue gets resolved – I hope he can come back and play for England.

'At the moment that can't happen. We're trying to do it behind closed doors to get the best possible outcome. It's a sad circumstance at the moment. He is a world-class player and he's not playing for England at this precise moment in time. He will be missed, but it gives another person an opportunity.

'Meetings are still going on in Sri Lanka at the moment. (ECB chief executive) David Collier and (managing director) Hugh Morris are out there as well.

'If the issues can be resolved, Kevin has said he is available for selection – but at the moment that can't happen.'

Chris Robshaw like England"s new rugby kit because it looks like Arsenal strip

Robshaw rates England's new kit… because it looks like the old Arsenal strip!



14:31 GMT, 19 September 2012

Arsenal supporter Chris Robshaw has welcomed England's new red wine change strip – because it looks like the kit once worn by his Gunners heroes.

Arsenal wore a redcurrant strip in the 2005-06 season to mark their last campaign at Highbury before moving to the Emirates Stadium.

England will debut their own version – officially dubbed 'regal purple' with gold detailing – in the QBE autumn international against Australia at Twickenham on November 17.

Gunner stunner: The change kit (second left) looks much like Arsenal's old strip

Gunner stunner: The change kit (second left) looks much like Arsenal's old strip

Robshaw, the England and Harlequins captain, said: 'The colour schemes are quite similar and being an Arsenal fan I don't really mind that. It's brilliant!

'It is a month or so before we meet up again with England and you are getting quite excited about the prospect of the teams we are going to play.
It is exciting to have a new kit and new sponsors.'

Robshaw also paraded England's more traditional new white home kit, which includes the return of navy socks for the first time since 2007.

The new-look battle gear was designed by Canterbury, who have replaced Nike as England's kit manufacturer after striking a four-year deal with the Rugby Football Union reportedly worth 20million.

The England Sevens team will compete in the HSBC World Series in two new radical kits – one in sky blue and the other red with white sleeves which also bears an Arsenal resemblance.

Talking the talk: England have the autumn Tests looming over the horizon

Talking the talk: England have the autumn Tests looming over the horizon

All England shirts, for the men's, women's and Sevens teams, are emblazoned with the slogan ENGLANDCONNECTED.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster requested Canterbury design one piece of kit that would be exclusive to senior elite players to 'represent the pride that comes from representing their country'.

As a result, Robshaw and his squad will don a “regal purple” presentation jacket for the anthems, as worn by England players during the 1970s, 1980s and early 90s.

The change kit is England's fifth since the 2007 Rugby World Cup, following red, purple, anthracite and the controversial all black strip worn at last year's tournament.

The new Arsenal-style strip was designed with the aim of 'reinforcing England's position as a member of rugby royalty'.

Kit of all right: Robshaw ducks out of the rain at the launch

Kit of all right: Robshaw ducks out of the rain at the launch

The Canterbury shirts are also said to be unrippable, although Robshaw expects Manu Tuilagi to have a good go at proving that claim wrong.

'I am sure we will have the challenge to try and rip the neck and I don't think it has been done. Scotland and the South Africa boys have tried and I think Manu Tuilagi will have a good go at it,' Robshaw said.

The kits were launched at Drybrook Rugby Club in Gloucestershire as part of England's determined bid to stay connected with rugby's grass-roots communities.

The campaign has been titled 'England Is All' and the players photographs were taken by world renowned photographer David Bailey.

Sophie Goldschmidt, RFU chief commercial officer, said: 'We want to put clubs at the heart of the game, which is why for the first time we are launching the new kit at a grassroots rugby club.

'Drybrook was selected by demonstrating what rugby means to their community.'

PFA pledge help for gay footballers – Nick Harris

Players union pledges help for gay footballers



21:44 GMT, 15 September 2012

Clarke Carlisle, the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, has told Inside Sport that the first English footballer to reveal that he is gay can expect to receive a commercial windfall from doing so.

But Carlisle, aware of the lingering homophobia within sections of the game, warns that the PFA could not guarantee that it would be a trouble-free time for the player.

No professional in the English game has come out since Justin Fashanu, who committed suicide in 1998.

Support: Clarke Carlisle said players will be backed

Support: Clarke Carlisle said players will be backed

Carlisle says the PFA have given advice to eight gay players and have assured them of PFA support if they decide to make their sexuality public.

'We feel the industry has changed and that society has changed and is less homophobic, and they will get all the support they need from the PFA,' said Carlisle.

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'But we cannot guarantee to them there won't be a negative reaction if they come out. Something we cannot deny is that the first player to do it will attract mass media intrusion and I think that's what is intimidating – that everything in your life, your family, your relationships, will be under scrutiny.

'Actually, there might well be substantial benefits and commercial opportunities for the first person to do it. That's just a reality, too. But any player considering coming out would need to weigh all this up, particularly the immediate intrusion into their lives.'

Carlisle believes a player might take the step 'reasonably soon', but will not put a time frame on it.

'Even if we as a sport want to be inclusive and against homophobia, which we do, we are in a quandary,' he said.

'We cannot and never will “out” a player, we can only try to create an atmosphere in which they can come out.

'The only point of reference for any of the players who are considering this is Justin Fashanu – and his story is a tragedy.'

Andy, but not Murray

Andy Murray may have won the US Open but an invitation to join the prestigious All England Club at Wimbledon is likely to come sooner to American Andy Roddick than to Britain's No 1.

Next Andy Roddick could be invited to be part of the All England Club

Next Andy Roddick could be invited to be part of the All England Club

The word in tennis is that Roddick, 30, and just retired, may now be invited to become a member of the elite club, which is normally open only to Wimbledon champions and hand-picked invitees.

Roddick, popular with the SW19 crowds, was a runner-up to Roger Federer three times and may now join other multiple runners-up Ken Rosewall and Ivan Lendl (now Murray's coach) as All England members.

Fury as drug cover-up boss is given new job in rugby

A rugby chief executive who was banned from his sport for two years for his pivotal role in a drugs coverup has provoked outrage by being allowed to return to work nine months before his ban has ended.

James Rule was CEO of Hull rugby league club when a group of his players took a banned performance enhancing substance, MHA, which was an ingredient in supplements that had not been properly checked.

Rule was instrumental in the lies told to try to get lenient treatment for one of his players, former Great Britain international Martin Gleeson, after he failed a drugs test.

He was banned for two years for his role in the plot and Gleeson, who admitted his part and helped the authorities catch others involved, got a reduced ban of 18 months.

Last week Rule was appointed chief executive at Widnes and claimed that as he would not be working directly with the players he was not in breach of his ban.

Controversy: Many say James Rule should not be involved at any level

Controversy: Many say James Rule should not be involved at any level

But insiders at UK AntiDoping, the agency leading the fight against drugs in British sport, are embarrassed that Rule can go back to work, believing it makes a mockery of his ban, which UKAD had hailed as a landmark because it punished a corrupt administrator, not an athlete.

UKAD chief Andy Parkinson said: 'UK AntiDoping will continue to ensure [the terms of Rule's ban] are complied with.'

Gleeson, whose own ban still has eight weeks to run, told me: 'I find it very odd that James Rule can go back to work running a club when I'm not allowed near the sport I love. 'I cannot even get a trial or play training games until my ban is up. It's not a level playing field.'

The substance in the Hull case, MHA, has just been banned from all supplements by the government's drugs agency because it has been deemed a risk to public safety.

Football drugs shame

Four footballers in the English game have failed drugs tests and served secret bans since January 2010, Inside Sport can reveal.

No details of the cases have yet been made public because of an administrative blunder between UKAD and the Football Association.

UKAD stopped publishing anonymous details of failed tests in early 2010 but the FA say they were unaware of this, so did not make the information public themselves. Three of the players failed tests after smoking cannabis, while the fourth was found to have taken cocaine.

Failed tests: Three footballers tested positive for cannabis

Failed tests: Three footballers tested positive for cannabis

Three of the players were trainees and the fourth a professional first-teamer. All four served bans.

Further details, including the identity of their clubs, remain confidential and the FA are expected to make a brief statement about the cases on Sunday.

All the players were caught as part of 'recreational' screening by the FA.

They are not obliged to test for 'social' drugs but do so to help keep the game clean. And four cases in 30 months actually represents a steep decline in positive findings, suggesting FA anti-drugs initiatives may be working.