England fends off critics, intruder
By Liz Clarke
What was to have been England's orderly march to the 2010 World Cup's knockout round has run chaotically off the rails.
Despite a roster gaudy with talent, the Three Lions have been exposed as toothless through their first two matches--managing two draws and just one goal against their supposedly inferior Group C rivals, the United States and Algeria.
The squad's listless and occasionally hapless performance has put England at risk of getting booted in the first round. And it has resulted in a daily, if not hourly, cycle of blame and recrimination, with Coach Fabio Capello saying "pressure" is the problem, star playing Wayne Rooney taking a sarcastic jab at fans for booing following Friday's scoreless draw with Algeria in Cape Town, and the England's newspapers shrieking with outrage.
"Cape Clowns" brayed the headline in The Daily Mirror. "Raging Fool" said the Daily Mail's caption of a photo of Rooney.
On Saturday Rooney apologized for any offense through a statement posted on the England Football Association's website, saying he had spoken "in the heat of the moment."
Then came news that a random England fan, presumably irate over the squad's gutless performance against Algeria, breached security in the bowels of Cape Town's Green Point Stadium, strode into England's locker room, had a word with former captain David Beckham and is now on the loose, having been escorted out of the venue--rather than charged with a crime--by a stunningly forgiving FIFA official.
FIFA and local organizers on Saturday fingered each other for the lapse, while local police searched for the fan who wore a red T-shirt when he entered the locker room shortly after England's Prince William and Prince Harry had visited.
Beckham downplayed the incident when asked about it Saturday by Sky Sports: "The fan walked in very causally, said something to me and walked out, there was no scuffle, no aggression at all. It was a personal conversation. He walked in and said, 'Hello.' It is not a problem. It was blown of out proportion, and we will move on."
Green Point Stadium was among three World Cup venues where private security guards walked off the job last week in a dispute over pay. Local police have attempted to pick up the slack since.
June 19, 2010; 3:34 PM ET
Categories: 2010 World Cup , Beckham , England | Tags: 2010 World Cup, David Beckham, England
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