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Thursday, 22 June, 2000, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Ref vilified by Yugoslavs
Yugoslav fans
Yugoslavs celebrate - but ref Veissiere angered them
Yugoslavia's media had little sympathy for the referee confronted by fans and then hit by a coin during their team's 4-3 defeat by Spain.

Despite rejoicing over Yugoslavia's qualification for the Euro 2000 quarter-finals, Belgrade newspapers unanimously blamed the last-gasp loss on the "referee theft of the century".

French official Gilles Veissiere, who was cut near the eye by a thrown coin as he left the pitch, was accused of being "the 12th Spanish player".

Veissiere himself said of the incident: "My face was covered in blood, and a very strong pain in my right eye and I could hardly see.

"I really thought my eye had had it.

"Then I thought of my loved ones watching it on television. It was terrible."

By loved ones, he will not be referring to the Yugoslav media.

Belgrade sports commentator Dusko Korac said on TV: "Remember this name - Gilles Veissiere - for dishonest, biased calls."

The Politika Ekspres daily said: "Everything began well but the soccer magic was destroyed by a single French referee."

Harsh

The papers claimed Veissiere wrongly awarded the Spaniards a penalty, was harsh in sending Slavisa Jokanovic, and added seven minutes of extra time after five were signalled by the fourth official.

The Vecernje Novosti compared the referee to Bernard Kouchner, the French head of the United Nations/Nato peacekeeping force in Kosovo.


Giles Veissiere
Veissiere: confronted and hit by a coin
The Belgrade Government blames Koucher for allowing ethnic attacks on Serbs in the province and accuses him of anti-Serb bias.

On a more positive note, the Dutch embassy in Belgrade has taken out an advertisement in Vecernje Novosti, saying its visa department will work extra hours to enable more Yugoslavs to attend Euro 2000.

Yugoslavia could yet be in trouble with Uefa over the conduct of its supporters during the game against Spain.

European football's governing body came down hard when English fans caused violence in Brussels and Charleroi, threatening to throw England out of Euro 2000.

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See also:

21 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Ref injured in Bruges clash
21 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Spain v Yugoslavia clockwatch
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