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Sunday, 30 January, 2000, 22:05 GMT
SNP's German support condemned

Bobby Charlton backs England

Labour has branded two nationalist members of the Scottish Parliament anti-English after they backed Germany's bid to host the 2006 football World Cup.

England, Germany and South Africa lead the field in the race for the right to host the world's second biggest sports tournament in six years time.

Kenny Gibson, MSP for Glasgow, and Lothian MSP Kenny MacAskill registered their support for Germany's bid on its official website.

Germany is also bidding
Labour MP Jim Murphy, captain of the Commons football team in London, said the action showed the true face of the SNP.

He said: "It is a decision based on prejudice, not football. The SNP's anti-English dogma is bad for Scottish supporters.

"Only in the anti-English myopia of the SNP could Germany be the first choice," he said, describing the German bid as the worst of the three.

Scottish Secretary John Reid said: "The SNP should be ashamed. This is pathetic and puerile. It is the politics of the playground.

"Once again the SNP's mask has slipped. They claim not to be an anti-English party but the truth is, as this row shows, they are motivated more by the politics of grudge and grievance than they are by the issues that matter most to the people of Scotland."

Mr MacAskill was at the centre of controversy last year when he was held by police in a cell before Scotland played England in the Euro-2000 play off at Wembley.

He was released without charge or caution, but missed the match.

A spokesman for the SNP said of the internet petition: "This was just a piece of light-hearted banter on the internet by two members of the Tartan Army.

"The SNP have no position on where the World Cup is held. We would travel 100 miles or 10,000 miles to watch Scotland score goals in it."

He added that it was "just silly" to describe the website entry as anti-English.

"It is time Labour developed a sense of humour about this. Although after the last week they haven't got much to laugh about," he said.

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See also:
16 Aug 99 |  Talking Point
Who should host the 2006 World Cup?
09 Aug 99 |  Football
World Cup battle kicks off
22 Dec 99 |  Football
Scots pitch in to help World Cup bid

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