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Tuesday, June 1, 1999 Published at 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK


World: Europe

Opposition grows to Yugoslavia match

If the game does get the go-ahead it won't be shown in Serbia

European ministers and politicians from the Republic of Ireland are seeking a solution to Saturday's controversial football international between Ireland and Yugoslavia in Dublin.

Ireland's Sports Minister, Jim McDaid, is meeting his European colleagues on Tuesday evening to discuss the game.

European football's governing body Uefa says the European Championship qualifying match must go on.

But there is growing pressure from ministers, the Irish Football Association (FAI) and fans for the game to be called off.

Difficult issue

Foreign ministers of the European Union have already expressed their disquiet, and now the sports ministers have called in football's top officials in a bid to solve a difficult issue.

They will meet the president of Uefa, Lennart Johanssen, and the head of the world's governing body, Fifa, Sepp Blatter.

Uefa and Fifa usually follow the lead of the United Nations when it comes to banning members.

But with no UN action against Yugoslavia, the authorities have no guidelines.

During the Bosnian conflict in 1992, Yugoslavia was banned from the European Championship - ironically their replacements, Denmark, won the tournament - but UN sanctions were then in place.

Opposition is growing

Opposition to the match is growing. The Irish Government is under pressure to refuse visas for the Yugoslav players, and has made it clear there will be no government representation at the match if it goes ahead.

The FAI wants to stop the game, but it risks being expelled if it refuses to field a team.

FAI officials have threatened to withdraw hospitality to the visiting team and will not allow the Yugoslav flag to be raised at the stadium in Dublin.

The Irish Football Supporters Association has urged its members to boycott the game in protest at Serbian atrocities in Kosovo.

Ireland's state-backed RTE television network said coverage of the game would include political opposition to the tie.

The FAI said they would not allow the match to be shown in Serbia.



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31 May 99 | Europe
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