England manager Gareth Southgate says the term ‘Wags’ is “disrespectful”.
A documentary has reportedly been proposed, following the England players’ wives and girlfriends before the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
Southgate said the idea is “not my cup of tea” and that he would “be surprised” if it comes to fruition.
“I don’t like the term. It’s their partners and family,” he said. “We want them to feel welcome.”
The phrase ‘Wag’ came into common use during the 2006 World Cup, when pop stars Victoria Beckham and Cheryl Cole were among the partners who travelled to Germany with the England squad and regularly featured in the British tabloid newspapers.
Players’ families and partners attracted far less attention at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, when Southgate invited them into the team hotel, but he was unable to do the same last summer as England hosted most of their games during their run to the Euro 2020 final.
“I’d be surprised if the group of players we have got would have interest in [the proposed documentary] because they’ve wanted to focus on the football,” Southgate said.
“The focus in Russia and last summer was all about the players and everything they do and we’ve never had any issues.
“We like to involve the families. It’s a great feel when you’ve got the kids in especially. It changes the dynamic of the hotel.
“We couldn’t do that last year because of Covid, but it’s one big family. Everybody recognises that part of what we do has been very good over the last couple of years.”
England play the final Nations League game of the current international break against Hungary on Tuesday and begin their World Cup campaign against Iran on 21 November.
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Southgate trying ‘not to change tack’ because of criticism
England have been criticised for their performances during their three Nations League games over the past 10 days, scoring just one goal – a late Harry Kane penalty which earned a 1-1 draw in Germany.
But Southgate, who has led the Three Lions to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, 2019 Nations League semi-finals and Euro 2020 final, explained how he must balance the desire for positive results in the short term with the team’s long-term plans.
“I have seen it worse and I have not too often seen it better than we have had it,” he said.
“You have got to roll with all of that really and not be distracted, not change tack on things you need to see and try to force players that perhaps shouldn’t be playing because, personally as an individual, you want a result, because you think that might help your standing.
“You know that is not going to help England. That is always my priority, to do the right thing for the team, [and] ahead of Qatar, that’s a subjective one really.
“We want to be successful in this tournament, that doesn’t change, but you are combining several objectives and that is always difficult.”
As well as the draw in Germany, England lost 1-0 in Hungary and drew 0-0 at home to Italy on Saturday, leaving them bottom of Group A3 before Tuesday’s reverse fixture with Hungary.
“We understand that in this last period of games we haven’t had the results people would have liked, but I think there are a lot of mitigating factors,” Southgate added.
“We are playing top-level teams. For years there was no challenge between tournaments that you were assessed on, other than friendlies.
“Maybe the team was all changed at half-time, or 60 minutes here or there. So [there was] less pressure, but we have had more competitive matches than any other England management team, I would say.
“The level of games is higher, but that helped us ahead of the Euros, and it will help us ahead of the World Cup, to be better prepared for what we are going into.”
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