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of all the players who appeared in the 1970-71
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Bobby Moore Secrets
The release of secret
Government files into the public domain uncovered the
story behind Bobby Moore's arrest immediately prior to the
1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico. BBC News UK CONFIDENTIAL London
pressure over Moore arrest
When England soccer
captain Bobby Moore was arrested in Colombia just
before the 1970 World Cup finals for alleged
shoplifting, British diplomats spared no efforts to
secure his release, documents reveal.
England stars Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton were
questioned on the eve of the Mexico 70 World Cup
Finals - a tournament England were expected to win -
about the alleged theft of an emerald bracelet from a
hotel gift shop.
The bracelet had gone missing when they were in
Bogota, Colombia, for warm-matches before going on to
Prime Minister Harold Wilson was pressuring diplomats
to do all they could to get Moore cleared of the
allegation, according to documents disclosed under
Such was the arm-twisting instigated in London that
Colombia's security service chief was even persuaded
to visit the judge in the case to warn him of the
ramifications if Moore were to be held any longer.
The initial allegations against the two footballers
were dismissed by the Bogota police as a set-up.
But a week later, with the England team back in
Colombia, the police had an arrest warrant for Moore
after information from an alleged new witness.
Learning of what could have turned out to be a
sporting catastrophe - if not a full-scale
international incident - British embassy officials
took the drastic measure of cabling the Foreign
Secretary while he was at a Nato planning meeting.
"We ensured that the magistrate concerned was
privately made aware of the awkward implications of
the case for Colombia because of the strong interest
of British and world opinion," the diplomat
The documents reveal that the Colombians agreed to
"stretch" the law so that Moore could stay
at the home of a local football official rather than
in jail - "a very considerable concession"
the official noted.
Back in London, the Foreign Office devoted some of
its best brains to the emerging crisis.
Officials cabled the Bogota embassy and warned:
"No subject is more calculated to
arouse public interest here.
"You must go on doing everything you can to help
sort out what I trust was a misunderstanding, and to
secure that he is allowed to proceed to Mexico as
speedily as possible."
So moved was the Prime Minister to intervene, that he
sent a message to the FA President, Lord Harewood,
assuring him the embassy was on the case.
"I have asked to be kept informed of further
developments and I will ensure that you are told the
moment there is any further news," he assured
By May 28, Wilson asked for the pressure to be
"If Mr Moore's case is not settled in the course
of today, the Prime Minister
would like urgent advice on whether he should himself
send a personal message to
the President of Colombia, particularly having regard
to the growing evidence of
delay caused by administrative inefficiency," an
But happily, it was soon resolved.
Just six days before Moore was meant to be leading
England onto the field in Mexico, he was cleared of
all charges - and the judge even said that he hoped
the England captain would go on to score many goals.
Though the Foreign Office didn't quite forget the
mini-crisis straight away.
A month later, when the ambassador met President
Lleras, he suggested that Colombia should place an
upcoming defence order with the UK, to help soothe
British public opinion.
"The President seemed to think the point a
reasonable one and said he would
bear it in mind," the ambassador remarked.
See also BBC News UK Secrets of 1970
The BBC programme
'Football Fever' had an interview with Pelé (Star
Players of Mexico 1970) in which for no explained reason he is stood
lepricorn size on a desk next to the interviewer. In it
he gives his real name (er ... EdsonArantes do
Nascimento, as I'm sure you know) and says he likes the
samba. See real 56k from BBC SPORT REPLAY
The Birch is Back
Bring Back the
Birch - Alan Birchenall
Alan Birchenall (Crystal Palace) has a new book out. If I were an ace reporter,
you could have entered a competition at LEICESTER CITY FC - Birchenall and seen him with Len Glover (Leicester City) and Jon Sammels (Arsenal) at a signing. As it was I
didn't know about it myself until his adverising stunt
shown by 'Match of the Day' and then didn't write any
news for 3 weeks. Anyway the book's called 'Bring Back
the Birch', and I hope it'll be available in all good
Book Sales in a couple of years time.
See more January news at the following