On November 30, it was announced by the English Football Association that center back Ben White was leaving the Three Lions camp, for undisclosed personal reasons. White’s club, Arsenal, sent out a public statement in full support of their player’s decision.
It wasn’t until the past day or so that reports came out on what might have happened in this situation. According to the Daily Star, h/t The Times, White got into an argument with assistant coach Steve Holland.
The report said that White was reprimanded at a team meeting, by Holland, due to the player being unable to recall data relating to his own personal statistics.
England manager Gareth Southgate was asked about the report at a press conference earlier today:
“As far as I am aware, the article that was written used words like ‘alleged’ and so whoever wrote it didn’t feel strongly enough that it was correct.”
Southgate refused to shed any light on the situation, and added only the following:
“Ben left for personal reasons. We made that very clear and I think especially in this day and age it is very important that a situation like that is respected.”
An ESPN report did provide some possible insight into the situation. According to their sources, an incident did occur at a meeting, and it did involve White, but it was “complicated.”
The article goes on to say that White is currently on holiday with his partner in the Maldives, and that he “was considered aloof around the camp by some of his teammates and struggled to integrate fully with the group.”
Ben White, obviously, did not travel with the rest of the squad to Dubai for the warm weather training trip, and the pair of club friendlies in the Middle East, against Lyon and AC Milan.
It still remains to be seen when he will rejoin the team, with the club’s next competitive match coming on Boxing Day against West Ham United.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”