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Page last updated at 14:11 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 15:11 UK

England veto Madrid for Spain tie

Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole suffered racist abuse in Spain in 2004

The Football Association will not allow a planned friendly with Spain to be played at Madrid's Bernabeu stadium because of fears over racist abuse.

Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips suffered racist abuse the last time England played there in 2004.

"We are currently in talks with the Spanish Federation," said FA director of communications Adrian Bevington.

"The FA were clear from the outset that we would not play the game in Madrid due to racial abuse we faced in 2004."

England manager Fabio Capello had two spells as manager at Real Madrid, winning La Liga in 2007.

"This fixture is one of the friendly games that Fabio Capello requested to play," added Bevington. "But as yet, a venue is still to be confirmed and the contract still to be signed."

On Tuesday, Capello distanced himself from reports that he supports the FA's demand that the match should be played away from Madrid.

"Why would I not want to play in the Bernabeu? It's my home. Everybody knows that I love Spain, I have a house in Marbella and I love Madrid, a marvellous city where I have spent two great years," he said.

I think it's a good idea for it to be played away from the Bernabeu

Steven Gerrard
"I don't decide where England play, it's a decision of the English federation which they will have to agree with the Spanish.

"For me I don't mind where we play, and of course if it is the Bernabeu, then all the better."

The friendly would be an attractive game with Spain, the European champions, having a number of England-based players in their side including Liverpool duo Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso.

England were beaten 1-0 when they played in Madrid in 2004 with Cole, Wright-Phillips, Rio Ferdinand, Jermain Defoe and Jermaine Jenas all subjected to racist abuse.

Centre-back Matthew Upson recalled: "I was at that game. I remember the racist chanting and it was not very pleasant.

"If we have to get a game moved because of the racist environment then we will. It is a positive step towards stamping it out."

In 2004, former Spanish coach Luis Aragones was fined 2,060 for making racist remarks about Thierry Henry.

Only last month England striker Emile Heskey was racially abused during England's 4-1 victory against Croatia in Zagreb.

Croatia were fined 15,000 by Fifa for the behaviour of their supporters.

England midfielder Steven Gerrard who plays with Torres and Alonso at Liverpool says he would relish the opportunity to take on the European champions.

"I'll be delighted if the game goes ahead," he said.

"Obviously I've got Spanish team mates and it'll be a nice challenge for me to take on the European champions.

"But I think it's a good idea for it to be played away from the Bernabeu."


see also
Ferdinand condemns Fifa on racism
08 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Croatia fined over Heskey abuse
25 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Spain must pay heavy price
18 Nov 04 |  Internationals
Reaction from Spanish press
18 Nov 04 |  Internationals
Is Spanish football racist?
21 Dec 04 |  Football
Fifa probes Spanish racist chants
18 Nov 04 |  Internationals
Ferdinand almost quit Spain game
19 Nov 04 |  Internationals
Spanish fine disappoints Wenger
23 Dec 04 |  Arsenal
Taylor wanted England to walk off
18 Nov 04 |  Internationals
Spain fined for racist chanting
21 Dec 04 |  Internationals


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