Tottenham and England defender Kyle Walker has offered an official apology after he was pictured inhaling “hippy crack,” a potentially fatal substance.
Walker featured in Friday’s 4-0 win over Moldova, which boosted England’s bid to qualify for next summer’s 2014 World Cup in Brazil. However, pictures then emerged of his off-field antics, for which he apologised on Twitter:
The pacey right-back also offered a statement through his club, per Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail:
I have now been made aware of the health risks associated with the practice and accept that my actions were of poor judgement.
I hope this will in no way influence or encourage others into putting their own health at risk.
The use of “hippy crack,” more clinically known as nitrous oxide, is not illegal, but it does carry several extremely dangerous side effects, even death in worst cases like that of Daniel Watts, who lost his life six years ago.
Long-term dangers for Walker’s career as a footballer with Tottenham and England include inhibited decision-making, stress on the heart and chronic depression, according to Ashton’s article.
Matthew Drake of the Daily Mirror reports the substance can be bought for £1.50 in the Sheffield area where Walker was pictured, and quotes a source who claimed, “More and more canisters of laughing gas started appearing. Kyle and his pals were getting well carried away with them. He didn’t mind one bit that people were taking pictures.”
Walker’s immediate focus on the pitch is England’s next qualifier against Ukraine on Tuesday, a game Frank Lampard claims they must win in order to avoid falling into the minefield of the playoffs, per the Daily Star's David Woods.
However, there is off-field concern over the FA’s lack of action over Walker’s behaviour, which contravenes the player conduct code set out last October. The governing body confirmed on Monday he will face no further action:
The FA and the England manager have spoken to Kyle about the matter and he has assured us it will not happen again.
Inhaling Nitrous Oxide is not illegal, but we recognise the associated dangers.
Kyle has accepted this mistake. He will not face any action under the England Player Code of Conduct.
The code requires all England players to conduct themselves "with the highest standards" at all times, per Ashton's article, but Walker is free to retain his place in the side for the trip to Ukraine.
In past generations the likes of Tony Adams admitted to playing 90 minutes while hungover, and Walker’s behaviour could be lightly construed as a footballer letting off steam with friends on a birthday night out.
However, the exposure of today’s footballers dictates that thousands of impressionable youngsters will view the Tottenham man as a role model, therefore raising serious question marks over the FA’s lack of response, which would indicate it views Walker’s behaviour as acceptable.