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Brits don't mind athletes betting

Jan 21, 2003 4:51 AM

Those Brits seem to have a different attitude when it comes to some of their biggest athletes gambling¡Keven on the sport in which they participate.

Last week, a London newspaper claimed that one of the country¡¦s top soccer players, Michael Owen, who plays for the Liverpool team, had spent 2.2 million English pounds, or about $3.5 million, betting on both soccer and the ponies.

No way, said the player. He didn¡¦t deny that he gambled on soccer games by betting through his father¡¦s offshore betting account, but he insisted his gambling level was far lower than what was printed.

A family friend confirmed that Owen indeed did gamble through his father¡¦s account but claimed the total losses were closer to $50,000 to $60,000 over the last couple of years. And, yes, some of his wagers were on the Manchester United and Chelsea soccer teams.

So what, asked the England Football Association whose spokesman said Owen would not face any investigation. League rules prevent players from placing bets on fixtures involving them directly.

Far cry from the treatment Pete Rose was given when allegations surfaced that he was betting on baseball. He was banned by baseball officials in 1989 and despite his outstanding record as a player he has been denied entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

There may be cracks in the anti-Rose wall, however. Reportedly talks have been taking place that would allow Rose¡¦s name to appear on a Hall of Fame ballot. And, last week, the Canadian Hall of Fame committee announced that Rose has been nominated for entrance based on his performance with the Montreal Expos in 1984.