Racist invective hurled
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
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
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
UEFA has been trying to crack down on stadium
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
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."