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Thursday, June 3, 1999 Published at 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK

Sport: Football

EU to intervene in Dublin match row

The Republic's players have objected to playing against Yugoslavia

Uefa has called on the European Union to intervene in the continuing row over the Republic of Ireland's decision to prevent the Euro 2000 match with Yugoslavia going ahead.

Dublin refused to grant the Yugoslav players entry visas because of the Kosovo conflict, ensuring that Saturday's match cannot go ahead.

Uefa has always insisted that it would not postpone the qualifying game - but in a statement it accepted the contest "cannot take place" because of the visa decision.

And now European football's governing body has asked the EU presidency to clarify its position on sporting links with Yugoslavia.

It wants the presidency to state whether the decision of the Irish government is applicable throughout the EU.

Uefa has the power to eject The Republic from the European Championships and it appears that the team's fate now rests with the EU.

FAI in plea to Uefa

The Football Association of Ireland have attempted to distance his organisation from the Irish Government's decision to refuse visas to Yugoslavian footballers.

Bernard O'Byrne: "Uefa refuse to listen to logic"
"This was a decision taken by the Government, we are not in a position to either support it or condemn it," said FAI chief executive and general secretary Bernard O'Byrne.

"Our line has always been consistent. This match could not and should never have been ordered to take place on Saturday.

"UEFA have always known our view but they would not take the decision to postpone the match. We have had to rely on a political decision."

The Republic could face sanctions from European football's governing body over their refusal to play the crucial qualifier.

Uefa had earlier warned that if the Yugoslav players were refused visas, the Irish team could be thrown out of Euro 2000.

Players opposed

The Irish players did not want the match to go ahead in light of the political situation in the Balkans.

[ image: Bertie Ahern:
Bertie Ahern: "Uefa failed to accept its responsibilities"
The Dublin government also took the strength of public opinion into consideration when it reached its decision.

A statement from Irish premier Bertie Ahern said the decision had been reached because of "the illegal and appalling actions of the Yugoslav regime against the people of Kosovo".

The statement added: "The government notes with regret the Uefa has persisted in its refusal to alter its decision.

"In view of this failure on the part of Uefa to accept its responsibilities, the unacceptable situation in Kosovo and the indictments of the International Tribunal against the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the government is convinced that it would not be appropriate for this football match to take place in Ireland."

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