Sven Goran-Eriksson has defended Victoria Beckham, Coleen Rooney and the rest of the 2006 World Cup WAGs brigade after they were accused of stealing the spotlight.
The Swedish football manager, 74, insisted that the group were doing ‘totally normal things’ as the glamorous crew sat in the stands and enjoyed fun-filled nights out in Germany during the tournament.
Led by Victoria, 48, Coleen, 36, and Cheryl Cole, 39, the wives and girlfriends famously commanded the spotlight, garnering more attention than their partners, who actually took to the pitch.
The group were kitted out in designer-clad outfits and their endless shopping, spats and nightly partying throughout the trip were seen as a major distraction for the footballers at the time.
Speaking to Boyle Sports World Cup, Sven has reflected on the scandal and defended the group, but admitted the heightened attention on the Spice Girl didn’t ‘make it easy’.
The coach also defended the WAGs being in attendance, rather than sitting ‘bored’ in a hotel, after the brigade were seen out-and-about in Germany.
‘One of the wives [at the World Cup] was Victoria Beckham and of course that didn’t make it easier, it made it fantastic for the press,’ he explained.
‘We saw the wives maybe once a week at dinner and I decided when that should be, and the rest of the days of course the wives were invited here and there and the FA helped them not to be sat in a hotel, bored, and I think that was great.’
Sven admitted that ‘whatever’ the WAGs did at the time was seen as a scandal due to the heightened attention on them at the time.
He added: ‘Whatever they did it was a scandal. If they went to a bar, if they went to a restaurant, if they went out shopping… [but] they were [doing] totally normal things. I found the reaction a little bit unhelpful.’
It has been widely claimed that the WAGs partying behaviour was the reason that the partners were banned from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Elsewhere, David Beckham has recently addressed the claims that the WAG brigade stole the limelight with their designer-laden looks at the 2006 World Cup.
Speaking in June, he admitted that the wives and girlfriends went ‘too far’ after they stole the show.
David admitted that Victoria grimaces at some of the looks she sported when she reflects on the competition years later, in an interview for Gary Neville’s The Overlap YouTube channel.
Reflecting on the decision to have the footballer’s families take centre stage during that World Cup, David admitted he was never against having the loved ones support them at the tournament.
He said: ‘I think there was attention on them. I always believed as an England captain, having wives and girlfriends and the kids around wasn’t a bad thing.
‘Once you’re in a training camp, you’re in training camp, you have to focus, but I think at the start of a tournament, it’s not a bad thing.’
But the sportsman, who was captain of the Three Lions for the tournament which saw them crash out in the quarter-finals after losing a penalty shootout against Portugal, confessed the obsession with the WAGs did go ‘too far’.
He said: ‘Looking back, that whole culture – there was a lot of attention around that and whether people behaved themselves in the right manner, I don’t know.
‘Even Victoria – she’s the first to say now – what was I doing, what was I wearing, why would I do that? It did [go too far].
‘There was more spoken about the WAGs than football. at the time, players want to focus on the tournament. It went too far, but I do believe having the WAGs and family around is a good thing.’
Victoria joined the army of WAGs that famously descended on Germany during that World Cup with their families, commanding attention with their designer-clad outfits as they cheered on their husbands in the stands.
Known for her glamorous designer outfits, Victoria also donned an England Rocks tank top for England’s match against Trinidad and Tobago.
As he and Gary toured the Qatar hotel that will host England during the World Cup later this year, David admitted he preferred a remote spot for the club to train and unwind ahead of such crucial ties.
He told his former teammate: ‘Every player was different. One you’re in the tournament, you had to be involved in where we stayed, the atmosphere, the games room.
‘Once we started getting players like Rooney into the squad, you had players who enjoyed games. The things you look for is tranquility.
‘You want to be in the middle of nowhere. As much as you want a bit of atmosphere, all you care about is the games. This [England’s Qatar hotel] is perfect.’