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The BBC's John Thorne
"Sense has prevailed"
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The BBC's Paul Newman
"There was resentment at the UEFA ruling"
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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Uefa bans Turkish fans

Turkish fans have been banned from a Uefa Cup semi-final in Leeds after two English fans were killed in Istanbul.

Four Turkish men were formally charged on Friday with the men's murders.

Uefa, European soccer's governing body, announced that the second leg of the semi-final would take place at Leeds United's Elland Road ground next Thursday despite calls for the match to be played at a neutral ground.



We have to play the two football matches because violence must not be allowed to prevail

Peter Ridsdale

Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight were killed as violence erupted before the first leg of the tie between Galatasaray and Leeds United in Istanbul.

The Turkish Football Federation had called for the second leg to be played at a neutral ground or behind closed doors, while Leeds wanted to keep the match at Elland Road.

Uefa spent the last few days weighing up evidence and arguments from both sides before finally backing Leeds and their chairman Peter Ridsdale.

"We have to play the two football matches because violence must not be allowed to prevail," a delighted Mr Ridsdale told BBC Radio 5 Live.


Peter Ridsdale
Peter Ridsdale: Relief at decision
"It is a relief. It was something we have been asking for for a week.

"Now we know what we are doing we can get on and play a football match."

David Davies, a Football Association director, said the "right decision had been made" because of the sensitive situation.

But Galatasaray vice-chairman Mehmet Cansun criticised the decision as "disgusting".

"It's unacceptable," he said. "It's double standards."

Susan Speight, the widow of one of the fans, had pleaded with Turkish supporters not to make the trip to Elland Road.

She also demanded that anyone considering travelling to Elland Road to revenge her husband's death stay away from the match.

Widow's plea

In a statement issued by her solicitors she said: "[Kevin] would have been among the first to condemn the violence in Istanbul and would be appalled to think that what he had hoped would be one of Leeds United's finest opportunities to take a trophy could be marred by violence."

Four Turkish men were formally charged on Friday with the murders of the two men.

The four include Ali Demir, who confessed his involvement to the media and Turkish police.

They are being held in Istanbul maximum security prison.

A trial date is still to be set.

60-year jail term

Turkish prosecutors are calling for 60-year jail terms for each of them if found guilty.

Fourteen other men are to face lesser charges resulting from the pre-match violence, which could still see a prison term of up to five years.

Since the killings in Istanbul emotions have been running high among Leeds fans.

At the first leg match - which Leeds lost 2-0 - they turned their backs on the Galatasaray supporters as a mark of their contempt.

They were further angered because the Turkish club did not hold a minute's silence before the game and their players did not wear black armbands.

However, there have been reports that Uefa made those decisions in an attempt not to further inflame the situation.

Leeds were charged by Uefa for failing to control its players after four were booked in the first leg.

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See also:

14 Apr 00 | Football
Uefa's statement in full
14 Apr 00 | Football
Leeds chairman hails Uefa decision
13 Apr 00 | Football
Widow's plea to Turkish fans
06 Apr 00 | Europe
Passion of Turkish fans
10 Apr 00 | UK
Uefa delay Leeds decision
11 Apr 00 | Football
We want to play - Galatasaray
13 Apr 00 | Football
Leeds shock at Uefa charge
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