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Last Updated: Friday, 5 September, 2003, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Turkish imams shun soccer expletives
Fans celebrate Galatasaray UEFA cup victory
Fans have been told to express excitement legitimately
Turkey's Muslim leaders have urged football fans to refrain from using foul language when cheering on their teams.

Imams around the country called on worshippers during Friday prayers to use instead phrases like "May Allah preserve you" (Maasallah) and "Blessed Allah" (Barek Allah) when shouting at the players, the private NTV station said.

One leading Istanbul cleric, Bayram Erdogan, said it was good for fans to express their excitement, but it needed to be done in a legitimate way - and applause and praising Allah was suitable.

Turkey has recently emerged as one of the leading football nations, but its passion for the game has been marred by outbreaks of violence involving supporters.

In August, a man was killed and 50 wounded when supporters clashed during a derby in the western city of Izmir.

And two fans of England's Leeds United were killed in violent clashes with supporters of the Istanbul club Galatasaray in April 2000.

Police regularly search fans for weapons as they enter stadiums.


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