THE Wags, the England football team’s wives and girlfriends, are to be grounded. The Football Association has decided to “ban” them from future international tournaments.
Hotel owners and shopkeepers from the cantons of Switzerland to the malls of Cape Town will be cursing their bad luck. The Wags offered the promise of at least £50,000 a day spending power for Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
But the FA, mindful of the distraction the daily forays to designer shops and nightly bouts of champagne swilling caused in Germany, wants to avoid repeat performances. It is almost certain to end the practice of block-booking a luxury hotel where all the Wags can stay together.
While it cannot stop the relatives making their own arrangements, it hopes to avoid a similar situation to that in Germany where the Wags were all ensconced in the spa town of Baden-Baden and each time they stepped outside were pursued by paparazzi.
Between them the Wags ran up a hotel bill of more than £250,000 for their husbands or boyfriends. Stories about £65,000 being spent in an hour’s shopping, or 19 bottles of £40 Legras Grand Cru being downed as the Wags danced on chairs, sometimes overshadowed the team’s dismal performances.
There were even claims last night that Abi Clancy, 20, the girlfriend of striker Peter Crouch, had been ordered home early after allegations that she was a cocaine user.
The Wags were discussed at a World Cup debriefing between Steve McClaren, the new England coach, and Brian Barwick, the FA’s chief executive, last week. They agreed that it had been a mistake to allow the the players’ families to accompany them to Baden-Baden, where the squad was based throughout the finals.
Families and friends accompanying the England players to tournaments is a recent innovation. Very few relatives travelled until the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, when Sven-Goran Eriksson, the former England coach, encouraged it on the advice of David and Victoria Beckham in the belief that it would enhance morale.
One member of the FA board said: “The Wags and all the hangers-on were definitely a problem in Germany. Sometimes I wonder where they all came from.”
Another board member said: “I’ve never taken my wife to work and it’s important for the footballers to concentrate on the game, rather than on what their wives are doing.”
Source: Times Online
Edit: The Independent also says:
"After knocking back Champagne and cocktails in the bars of sleepy Baden-Baden, the squad's glamorous other halves are said to have made drunken phone calls to their partners, some as late as 4am. This despite the strict regime under former coach Sven Goran Eriksson, who insisted his players were tucked up by 10.30pm prior to a match, with a midnight curfew on other days."