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Saturday, 22 June, 2002, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK

Fifa praises England fans

Disappointed England fans will head home from the World Cup with praise for their "perfect" behaviour during the tournament, and their reputation largely restored.

Japanese authorities had prepared themselves for the worst following trouble at France '98, but their fears proved groundless.

Lennart Johansson, chairman of the World Cup organising committee, said: "On behalf of Fifa I would like to compliment the English fans for their behaviour, not just last night but through this whole World Cup.

"We always hear loudly enough when fans do not behave so let's make plenty of noise this time that their behaviour has been perfect.

" Thank you to those fans who have re-asserted the positive image of our game "
Fifa's Lennart Johansson

"They showed that real football fans know how to enjoy the game, support their team, celebrate when they win and take defeat when they lose.

"They also showed that problems caused at some matches are caused not by fans, but by troublemakers who are not interested in the game itself but just want to give a bad reputation to the genuine football lovers."

Irish fans were also singled out for praise, with organisers descrbiing them as the best in the tournament.

Johansson added: "Thank you to those fans who have re-asserted the positive image of our game, but also to those from other countries who have helped to make this a wonderful World Cup."


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