World Cup: Vale hero and Sentinel columnist Robbie Earle axed by ITV
PORT Vale hero and Sentinel columnist Robbie Earle admitted he might have been "naive" after World Cup tickets allocated to him were found to have been used for "unauthorised purposes".
ITV fired him yesterday and said a "substantial number" of tickets, which were for Earle's friends and family, had been passed to a "third party".
The incident relates to claims that a group of women at Monday's Holland v Denmark match were involved in a marketing stunt.
The group of 36, all wearing orange mini-dresses, were ejected from the game when Fifa bosses accused them of wearing the outfits to promote a brand of beer who are not one of the official sponsors.
The practice is known as "ambush marketing".
Members of the group were found to have tickets in their possession and it is understood they were part of Earle's allocation.
Terms and conditions of the tickets prevent them being passed on, or sold to third parties.
Earle, who is also an ambassador for England's 2018 World Cup bid, said: "Call me naive, but I didn't think I was doing anything wrong.
"I hope when people hear the full story they see me in a different light.
"I have absolutely no connection with any marketing ambush agency and have not profited in any way from these tickets."
Earle, aged 45, who grew up in Weston Coyney, played 343 games for Vale after making his debut in 1982, before he was sold to Wimbledon for £775,000 in 1991.
He went on to play for Jamaica in the World Cup France in 1998 and scored the nation's first ever goal in the World Cup finals in the 3-1 defeat to Croatia.
In a statement, ITV said: "Following claims by Fifa that official 2010 World Cup tickets may have been used for ambush marketing, ITV has reviewed its entire ticket allocation for the tournament.
"Immediate investigations indicated that a block of ITV tickets would appear to have been used for unauthorised purposes during the Holland v Denmark match.
"Further inquiries have revealed that a substantial number of tickets allocated to Robbie Earle for family and friends have been passed to a third party in breach of Fifa rules.
"As a result, Robbie Earle's contract with ITV has been terminated with immediate effect."