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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Uefa calls off European ties
Uefa's Gerhard Aigner
Uefa's Gerhard Aigner announced the decision
Uefa has postponed all this week's remaining Champions League and Uefa Cup ties.

Europe's governing football body said it had no choice but to cancel the remaining ties following the terrorism attacks on America.

"We've decided as a mark of respect and in recognition of the terrible events in the United States to postpone all this week's scheduled games," said Uefa spokesman Mike Lee.

Eight Champions League and 43 Uefa Cup matches were due to be played on Wednesday and Thursday.

Manchester United's match against Olympiakos and Celtic's tie against Rosenborg will not take place.

The postponed Champions League matches have been provisionally re-arranged for Wednesday, 10 October.


The scale of this tragedy and the pain and sorrow which it brings should cause us all to reflect
Uefa chief executive Gerhard Aigner

But world governing body Fifa has taken a different stance.

It has decided to go ahead with the Asian World Cup qualifiers this weekend "providing that the safety of everyone involved can be guaranteed".

Describing football as "a beacon of hope" Fifa said it "would not capitulate in the face of violence".

The matches this weekend are Oman v United Arab Emirates and Iran v Bahrain on Friday, plus China v Uzbekistan and Thailand v Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Greek champions Olympiakos said the cancellation of their Champions League game was a major disruption.

"We are very, very upset. This cancellation changes all our plans," said Olympiakos spokeswoman Olga Nikolaidou.

'Good sense'

But Fiorentina chief executive Luciano Luna said the decision was right even if it had come a day late.

The Italians were due to leave for the Ukraine to play a Uefa Cup tie with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

Luna said: "It was a decision of good sense - which should have been taken on Tuesday."

Representatives of many of the other clubs involved also backed the decision.

Major security problems

Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon said: "The right decision was made. In the context of a football game and the scale of what happened [on Tuesday], cancellation is really irrelevant.

"The scale of the tragedy is unbelievable.

Uefa had said it was too late to call off the games on Tuesday without major security problems as many of the fans were already in the stadiums.

Leeds were due to play their Uefa Cup tie against Maritimo in Madeira, while Chelsea, Ipswich, Aston Villa and Kilmarnock all had home ties.

Rangers chairman David Murray
Rangers chairman David Murray

Hibernian were playing AEK Athens in the Greek capital.

Rangers were supposed to be playing Anzhi Makhachkala in Dagestan - but chairman David Murray had already pulled his players out of the game over safety fears in the war-torn Russian republic.

"The scale of this tragedy and the pain and sorrow which it brings should cause us all to reflect," said Uefa chief executive Gerhard Aigner.

"Uefa feels it is right that the European football family should respect the loss and suffering now being felt by those families who have lost their loved ones by postponing all scheduled to be played this week."

"On behalf of Uefa, I would like to send our condolences and deepest sympathies to all those who are in pain as a result of these terrible events.

"We will convey this in a formal message to the US Embassy in Geneva.

"We will continue to monitor the overall security situation within Europe over the next few days and will make further statement in due course concerning the rescheduling of these games."

The Scottish Football Association backed Uefa decision.

"We fully understand the reasons for the decision," said SFA spokesman Andy Mitchell.

"Everyone in football feels the pain being suffered by those who have lost family and friends in these appalling attacks."

The English Premier League and the Scottish Premier League confirmed that this weekend's domestic matches will go ahead as planned.

Eight Worthington Cup and two Scottish CIS Insurance Cup ties scheduled for Wednesday will also go ahead.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC sports news correspondent Nigel Adderley
"Uefa acted swiftly today to cancel the rest of this week's programme"
Uefa spokesman Mike Lee
"Postponing the games is our way of showing respect"
BBC Sport's Rob McLean
"Hundreds of Hibernian supporters have already flown to Athens for their game"
Ipswich Town boss George Burley
"I think sport has to come secondary to things that have happened in the last day"
See also:

12 Sep 01 |  Uefa Cup
Rangers seek higher appeal
11 Sep 01 |  Americas
US rocked by terrorist attacks
11 Sep 01 |  SOL
US sport put on hold
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