Eriksson to Act on Bets Rift - Saturday 15th of April 2006

LONDON, UK As reported by the Daily Mirror: "Sven Goran Eriksson's World Cup preparations are facing the nightmare spectre of a £700,000 ($1,043,092)betting rift between strikers Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney.

"Rooney is refusing to pay the huge debt - built up over just six months to private bookmaker Stephen Smith, one of Owen's business partners. England boss Eriksson will talk to Rooney and other players involved in the gambling ring to try to head off a dispute that could fatally undermine the national team's hopes of glory in Germany.

"A Rooney insider claimed: 'There has to be a question over how the debts have been allowed to run up to that size.'

"But although it is believed Rooney still wants to count Owen as a personal friend and valued team-mate, there has been a huge problem caused by the scale of what he owes. FIFA regulations brought in last month mean every member of the official England World Cup party must sign a declaration promising not to bet on any aspect of the tournament, with the punishment being expulsion form the competition...."

"...Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho last night admitted his concerns over the gambling culture in the game while the PFA offered Rooney help if he needs it..."

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