September 9, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 6  

Front Page >> Sports > Racist invective hurled at English


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Racist invective hurled at English

NYON, Switzerland (AP) - European soccer governing body UEFA said Monday it had launched an investigation into racist chanting during a Euro 2004 qualifier between Macedonia and England.

UEFA officials started the inquiry after Macedonian fans hurled abuse at England players during Saturday's Group 7 match. England won the game 2-1.

"It's the beginning of disciplinary proceedings," said UEFA spokesman Mike Lee. "There is enough prima facie evidence that leads us to open disciplinary proceedings."

He said that UEFA would now study reports from its delegates and the referees, as well as players' statements and video evidence.

A date for the hearing has not yet been set. It will take place after UEFA's upcoming Control and Disciplinary Commission meeting Sep. 11.

England player Emile Heskey, who is black, appeared to be the target of much of the taunts - which included monkey noises - by fans at the stadium in the Macedonian capital of Skopje.

UEFA has been trying to crack down on stadium racists.

Slovakia, which is also in Group 7, was ordered to play a match behind closed doors after its supporters racially abused England players - including Heskey - in a Euro qualifier last October.

In May, England escaped a similar sanction for its own fans' racism during another Group 7 match the previous month. England's soccer federation was instead fined a record 150,000 Swiss francs ($148,330 Cdn) after some of its fans were racially abusive and surged on the field during a game against Turkey in Sunderland, in England's northeast.

In other England news, an organization that represents supporters has warned that fans who travel to England's final Euro 2004 qualifying match against Turkey in Istanbul could be in "significant danger.

Kevin Miles, international co-ordinator for the Football Supporters' Association, said Monday fans should heed warnings not to travel to Istanbul for the Oct. 11 match.

Miles plans to visits Istanbul this week to check the situation. The England Football Association refused its allocation for Saturday's Euro 2004 qualifier in Macedonia, but several hundred fans still attended.

The FA has also refused tickets for the Turkey match, which is expected to decide who gains automatic promotion to the European Championship finals in Portugal next summer.

"From the discussions I've had, it appears that there is a significant danger and a significant risk to the safety of English football fans, and we'll be stressing that in the information we bring back," Miles told Britain's Press Association in Skopje.

"Without wanting to prejudge what we find there, the impression I'm getting is that it's going to be very different from Macedonia. We haven't finalized any plans and there are a lot of people who have to talk about it."



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