Football violence may hit Cup hopes

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The Independent Online
WITH THE World Cup just months away, English soccer's attempts to cleanse itself of a reputation for violence suffered a grim setback at the weekend with the killing of a supporter, and a series of ugly disturbances around the country.

The football authorities are concerned that a relapse to days of regular terrace hooliganism will badly damage attempts to host the 2006 World Cup. Sports minister Tony Banks returned from South Africa yesterday where, it is believed, he had been lobbying to get the competition.

And in a separate development, the Government's independent Football Task Force is due to recommend that players and managers should face the sack for racism, and racist abuse by supporters should be made a criminal offence.

Yesterday in Kent, detectives were yesterday questioning three men over the death of a 24-year-old Fulham fan Matthew Fox in clashes outside the ground of Gillingham football club. Mr Fox died from head injuries, a Post mortem examination revealed.

There was trouble at other grounds. Fans charged on to the field twice at Barnsley after three of the team's players were sent off during a home game with Liverpool. Three fans tried to assault the referee, Gary Willard, but were prevented by Barnsley player Jan Aage Fjortoft.

The referee at Everton's home match with Aston Villa at Goodison Park, Neale Barry, was the target of attack by an irate fan. But the man was intercepted by police and stewards before he could reach Mr Barry.

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