FOOTBALL AROUND THE WORLD

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The Independent Online
USA v Canada

In 1969, the Concacaf World Cup qualifying tournament led to a brief war between El Salvador and Honduras. Now, although no shots have been fired, it is the turn of the region's two biggest countries, the United States and Canada, to fall out.

The Canadian Soccer Association is challenging the eligibility of a German- born American forward, David Wagner, who helped the US beat Canada 3- 0 last month. The Canadians say Wagner, the son of an American who was a student in Germany in the 1970s, played four games for Germany's Under- 18 team in Uefa tournaments in 1987 and 1988 and is ineligible to play for the States.

Last year, the US coach Steve Sampson admitted that Wagner, who grew up in Germany and plays for Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga, had also played once for the German Under-21 side. However, Sampson claimed that since he had not played a full international for the Germany in a Fifa competition, he was eligible to play for the States.

The CSA is, however, confident its interpretaion of the rules is correct. "I'm sure they [US Soccer] won't be pleased, but at the same time we all have to play by the same rules," the CSA president, Kevan Pipe, said.

"I was extremely surprised that he had played [for Germany] but also that they were promoting [in press releases] that he had played. If they hadn't done that, we never would have known." If Fifa upholds the protest, the States' 3-0 World Cup win over Canada could be replayed, or the result could be reversed.

West Bromwich Albion's Canadian striker Paul Peschisolido, who was sent off in this month's 0-0 World Cup draw against El Salvador, has apologised - on the CSA's web site. "To understand why I snapped you had to be on the pitch with me," he wrote in an open letter. "It is hard being a small player constantly kicked, spat at, punched and knocked."

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