Sacking Of England's Soccer Coach
'Language Fascism Is Still Claiming Victims' The Courier-Mail, 4/2/99

Yesterday, England's soccer coach Glenn Hoddle was tossed out of the ground by the sport's administrators after he suggested the lot of disabled people was due to karmic energy stemming from past lives.

Hoddle never had a chance. Every-one lined up against him, including the buttoned-down Prime Minister, New Labour's Tony Blair.

Blair weighed in after his minister with responsibility for the disabled said Hoddle had made remarks many would find "deeply insulting". The Prime Minister said if the coach was correctly quoted (which he disputes) it would be difficult for him to hold his job.

Here's what Hoddle actually was quoted as saying in The Times last week:

"You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and half-decent brains. Some people have not been born like that for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime. It is not only people with disabilities. What you sow, you have to reap. You have to look at things that happened in your life and ask why it comes around."

The fact is a ballooning number of lost souls probably agree with Hoddle — all those characters who gather around the New Age stalls at the Riverside markets or live in various hinterlands from the Tweed to the Bloomfield.

And, as David Aaronovitch, a columnist with the London Independent, asked:

"Why is it more insulting to believe that disability is a hangover from a previous life than to believe that it is 'God's will'?"

In London poor Glenn Hoddle was a New Age fringe dweller — he once wanted to bring a spiritualist to an English team camp — who should have stuck to soccer (although he wasn't too hot in that arena either).