England

Cole apologizes to FA chairman

English FA chairman David Bernstein met Ashley Cole on Monday.
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Football Association chairman David Bernstein has revealed that Ashley Cole apologised to him personally on Monday night over his offensive Twitter message.

Bernstein also stressed that England manager Roy Hodgson will decide whether the Chelsea full-back plays against San Marino in Friday's World Cup qualifier.

Cole was charged with misconduct by the FA on Monday over his Twitter outburst on Friday when he referred to the governing body as a "bunch of t****" in response to the independent regulatory commission's damning judgement on his evidence in the John Terry racial abuse verdict.

Bernstein, speaking to Radio 5 Live ahead of Tuesday's official opening of the National Football Centre at St George's Park in Burton, revealed that Cole had followed up his apology to the FA on Friday with a personal apology on Monday night.

"He apologised immediately on Friday and he came to see me last night and apologised to me personally," said Bernstein.

"He showed real contrition. He said he was really sorry.

"He is free to play for England over the coming matches. It is up to the manager to decide whether he plays or not."

Cole was given until 4pm on Thursday to respond to Monday's FA charge. the timing far from ideal given the deadline is barely 24 hours before England face San Marino at Wembley.

With Bernstein confirming it is up to Hodgson to decide whether or not to play Cole, the only threat to his chances of winning a 99th cap would appear to be if the England manager opts to rest him ahead of the crucial trip to Poland four days later.

Bernstein was convinced Cole's apology was heart-felt. He told Sky Sports News: "It was a serious apology. He expressed a degree of remorse for what he had done, wished it hadn't happened.

"I looked him in the eye and really felt that he meant it."

Bernstein admitted, though, that the Chelsea full-back's actions meant he was unlikely to captain England for what could be his 100th cap against Poland next Tuesday.

Asked about the possibility of Cole being given the armband to mark the occasion, Bernstein said: "To be absolutely honest I doubt it. We've expressed a view on what we need with regard to a captain and I doubt it, but we'll see.

"We've had issues and we've stated publicly many times that we have a very high level of behaviour and so on and so forth required from an English captain."

Bernstein also revealed the FA will not appeal the punishment handed to Terry by the independent regulatory commission.

"The FA I believe will not be appealing it," he said. "But the thing is still under possible appeal therefore I do not want to talk about the John Terry thing at all.

"It's not over yet and John Terry has a right of appeal himself."

The FA chief hailed the St George's Park complex as key to the future of football in England.

He said: "I actually stood by the pitch yesterday and watched the first team training for the first time here and I must say it was a wonderful experience to see Roy Hodgson and the squad working here.

"We expect to get a huge amount out of this, probably first and foremost the development of more and better coaches. We have good coaches in this country, but we need many many more and this will be a centre driven to produce better coaching.

"It's a multi-faceted site, but it should make a huge impact on English football over a period a time.

"Having the England team here is inspirational and I think what we want to see is other teams working here at the same time and not training with them but training alongside them."

David Sheepshanks, chairman of St George's Park, revealed his hope that the centre will deliver success for the England team from 2020 onwards.

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Sheepshanks told BBC Radio 5 Live: "This place is a place to inspire young people and young coaches to invest in themselves and go beyond just getting the badge.

"The teachers of the game have the defining influence. We are investing in the teachers so that we can get ahead of what they are doing in France and Spain.

"This is a deliberately long-term view. Really it is the investment in coaches that is crucial and from 2020 onwards we will have winning England teams."

In response to the Cole saga, FA general secretary Alex Horne revealed the organisation were looking at social media to be part of the code of conduct.

He told Sky Sports News: "The issues of social media are multiple, very personal. You take personal responsibility for what you put out.

"Tweeting is effectively like me talking to you and millions of people and they need to understand that and I think they do.

"The clubs and England need to help them as much as possible with reiterating guidelines and reiterating safeguards...in terms of think before you tweet...but we are not going to over-labour it.

"There is a policy in place across the FA, there are lines and if you cross them we will charge you. The clubs have their own policies in place.

"We as England will look towards including something on social media in a code of conduct."

Trevor Brooking, the FA director of football development, explained a long-term aim of St George's Park was to get England playing like world champions Spain.

"I'd like to see the quality of grass-roots football improve," he told Sky Sports News.

"The key to the long term at the elite level is to make sure the grass-roots level comes up, because then our choice, the club's choice in the academies, is going to be so much better and they'll be able to deal with the game of football that we see (from) Barcelona and Spain. We've got to get them playing the same game.

"What we need to get is instead of 35% (of English players) playing every week in the Premier League, it's got to be 45, 55, 65, on merit, and then 75%, because that's what Spain are at the moment, I think the senior coach of England then has got every right to be challenging and that's what we would expect at that stage.

"But 10 years I think is a realistic time scale for that."

Brooking said the focus should be on improving English players in their early years.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We have to produce good young England players. We have to make them better in those early years.

"There are three key age groups - 5-11, 12-16 and 17-21. We have to focus on those first two age groups and produce quality England players who are good enough to break into a Premier League club's first team at the age of 18 or 19."

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