England face probe into fans' behaviour

LONDON: English football faces disciplinary action by the European union UEFA after pitch invasions and a fracas involving players in the tunnel marred England’s 2-0 win over Turkey on Wednesday. 

More than 90 fans were arrested after violent skirmishes erupted before the match, police said yesterday. 

Hooligans pelted riot police with bottles and bar stools as rival English fans clashed before the Euro 2004 qualifier, Superintendent Jim Campbell, in charge of security at the 48,000 sell-out match, said. 

No Turkish fans were arrested or injured. 

Wednesday’s violence followed a weekend of trouble in the run-up to England’s game against Liechtenstein where several fans were arrested but later released without being charged after violence broke out in Zurich and Liechtenstein’s capital Vaduz. 

A Turkish football federation official said UEFA should ban England from playing their next qualifying match at home. They are scheduled to play Slovakia at Middlesbrough on June 11. 

“If this had happened in Turkey we would receive a two or three game home ban,” said Selami Ozdemir. 

UEFA communications director Mike Lee said: “We will await the official report from the referee and the UEFA match delegate before deciding whether an investigation is needed.” 

David Davies, the FA’s acting chief executive, said they would consider banning England fans from travelling to Turkey for the return match in Istanbul on Oct 11. 

“We will not make any decision until June,” he said. 

Both England goals led to invasions by around 50 supporters, and the second led to a scuffle involving Turkey defender Alpay who plays for English Premier League side Aston Villa.  

Alpay kicked out at one fan and was involved in a scuffle with another before stewards cleared the pitch.  

At the final whistle Alpay left the field in a fury and tried to pull down a board at the top of the players’ tunnel.  

Turkish players, including Blackburn midfielder Tugay, were also involved in a further fracas in the tunnel when England goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence exchanged heated words with Turkish players, including Alpay. 

“There were some strong exchanges of views and some pushing and shoving. But there was no bust-up and no throwing of punches,” said FA head of communications Paul Newman. 

“After a minute or so, everyone had retired to their respective dressing-rooms.”  

The match was a European Championship qualifier, and pitch invasions by fans are usually punished by UEFA. – AFP 

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