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Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Riot 'blow' for Euro 2008 rivals
Crowd scene
The Rapid Vienna and Arsenal game was abandoned
An outbreak of violence at a friendly fixture in Austria may have enhanced Scotland and Ireland's bid to stage the Euro 2008 football championships, according to an MP.

Angus Robertson said questions were being asked about potential damage to the rival bid by Austria and Switzerland following fighting between Rapid Vienna fans and police during a friendly with English champions Arsenal.

The Scottish National Party's foreign affairs spokesman said the incident was a "major blow" for Scotland and Ireland's rivals.

Angus Robertson
Angus Robertson: Concerns being raised
He said the incident proved that Austria had a "policing and hooligan problem".

The match in Eisenstadt had to be abandoned with 20 minutes left when Rapid fans clashed with police and the players were forced to take cover.

Austria and Switzerland's joint bid to host the tournament has been viewed as the main obstacle to Scotland and Ireland's chances of staging the event.

The Moray MP said he believed European football's governing body Uefa would take account of last night's events when deciding who will win the race to stage Euro 2008.

He said: "I have no doubt this is a major blow to the bid by Austria and Switzerland for the 2008 European championships.


There appeared to be no protection for the players of each side, people could just wander around the place with no restrictions

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager
"Despite the fact that the majority of Austrian and Swiss football fans are overwhelmingly non-violent, this incident has underscored a policing and hooligan problem in Austria.

"This is a problem for Austrian football and I'm certain that Uefa will take it into consideration when assessing the joint Austrian-Swiss bid."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger threatened to pull Arsenal out of their pre-season tour of Austria unless his fears over security are allayed.

No Arsenal supporters were involved in the trouble and Rapid officials have apologised.

"I was concerned from the moment we came into the ground," revealed the Arsenal manager.

"I sensed this was an extremely hostile atmosphere and the lack of security was extremely worrying.

"There appeared to be no protection for the players of each side, people could just wander around the place with no restrictions.

"I had been warned beforehand that the Vienna fans had a reputation for getting nasty, but this was a pre-season friendly. I never expected anything like this to happen."

See also:

27 Jul 02 | Arsenal
11 Jul 02 | Scotland
29 May 02 | Scotland
16 May 02 | Scotland
24 Apr 02 | Scotland
28 Feb 02 | Scotland
28 Feb 02 | Scotland
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