Swedish coach Eriksson 'happy' if Fake Sheikh jailed
AFP · 7 Oct 2016, 12:28
Published: 07 Oct 2016 12:28 GMT+02:00
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Eriksson, or 'Svennis' as he is known in Sweden, was one of the high-profile targets of Mazher Mahmood, who became famous for his front-page scoops in the now defunct News of the World where he posed as a wealthy figure from the Gulf – the 'Fake Sheikh' – and encouraged celebrities into making embarrassing revelations.
Mahmood, 53, and his driver Alan Smith, 66, were convicted on Wednesday of conspiring to pervert the course of justice following a trial at England's Old Bailey central criminal court in London.
A jury found they plotted to suppress evidence in the collapsed 2014 drugs trial of British pop singer and TV star Tulisa Contostavlos, which resulted from a Mahmood sting.
After the verdict, it was announced that 18 civil claims were being launched against Mahmood and News UK, the parent company of the News of the World, which could total £800 million ($995 million, 8.5 billion kronor).
Eriksson, 68, quit as England manager after the 2006 World Cup following another Mahmood sting.
The Swede, who had agreed in January of that year to step aside as England boss after the tournament, was covertly recorded by Mahmood – in 'Fake Sheikh' garb – saying he would be ready to join Aston Villa if England won the World Cup.
"I've always said the England job was the best I ever had and the story took it away from me," Eriksson told Friday's Daily Telegraph.
"I didn't say too much about it at the time, or afterwards, but it was painful. It is taking something special away through lies."
"If they put him in jail, then I am extremely happy, because what he has done to people is wrong."
Eriksson, who later manager Manchester City, Mexico and Leicester and now works in China for Shanghai SIPG, was still bitter over the events leading to his England exit.
"It was quite clear – the official reason for me being sacked was him, the Fake Sheikh."
"If we hadn't won the World Cup (England were beaten in the quarter-finals), I think I would have gone anyway, but to go in this way was horrible. It was the worst thing that has happened to me in 40 years as a manager."
Mahmood and Smith are due to be sentenced on October 21st.
British prosecutors have since dropped a number of live criminal cases in which Mahmood was due to be a witness and announced a review of 25 past convictions.