Football Diary: Steamed up about Turkey

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The Independent Online
THE LEGACY of Galatasaray refuses to disappear: the alleged mistreatment of Manchester United fans in Istanbul is becoming increasingly a political issue. The Parliamentary Undersecretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mark Lennox-Boyd, who has already talked to the Turkish Ambassador about the incidents which led to arrests, deportations and ticket-holders being denied entry to the stadium, is expected next week to meet the leading campaigners, Tom Pendry, the Shadow Minister for Sport, and David Mellor, MP and Six-O-Six host, to discuss the dispute.

Pendry, who has twice contacted John Major demanding action, said yesterday he was fed up with 'being fobbed off'. Earlier this week, Pendry wrote to Major claiming he had 'turned his back' on United's fans and requested the PM discover 'why so many of your citizens were assaulted and despatched back to this country without seeing the game that had cost them so much'.

While the politicking goes on, the Football Supporters' Association and branches of the United supporters' club are taking more direct action: they have called on United to co-ordinate the campaign and today, outside Old Trafford, will collect cash to pay legal bills.

AT 7pm ON WEDNESDAY Jonathan Pierce, the fastest radio commentator in sport, began his report thus: 'Welcome to Bologna on Capital Gold for England against San Marino with Tennent's Pilsner lager brewed with Czechoslovakian yeast for that extra Pilsner taste and England are one down.'

RYAN GIGGS is worth pounds 11.50 - pounds 9,999,988.50 less than Manchester United refused from Milan. For the fee, you don't actually get the Welsh winger - merely the 'Ryan Giggs' special at two Cardiff restaurants. Giggs has been called a dish before - in Jackie and Just 17 - but now he embodies 'Veal cooked in butter, White Wine, Cream and a touch of Dolcelatte Cheese'. Other Welsh plates included Parma ham (Southall), large prawns (Speed), pasta spirals (Young), soup of the day (Phillips), New Zealand mussels (Saunders) and fillet steak (Rush).

FOR THOSE racists who refuse to recognise England goals scored by black players, the Bologna scoreline must have made them cringe - San Marino won 1-0. (And, at Chelsea today, will Arsenal fans chant 'Ian Wright, Wright, Wright . . . Wright'?)

THE LETTERS page of the Brentford fanzine, Beesotted, harbours more witty words on football than a Nick Hornby anthology. 'It was nice to see that Mickey Bennett and Joe Allon cannot play together,' reads one of the current collection - a reference to recent games but hugely apt following the incident between the two which led to Bennett's exit on Wednesday. Along with eulogies to Dogbolter beer, Manx Kippers and a New Road terrace blonde called Caroline rests a gem from the Heathrow Bees, who work at the nearby airport and take planes to away matches. A stunned Beesotted editor, having read of the jet-setters' plane parties, inserted . . . 'No scarves out the window?]'.

THE TOKYO organisers of next month's Toyota Cup between Milan and Sao Paulo describe the Italians' graceful Brian Laudrup as 'an aggressive midfielder'. What would they make of Vinnie?

THE SHORTISH player in the Leicester kit was having a nightmare finding goal during the kick-in at Stoke. Each skied shot was met with a sympathetic 'oooh' by the 1500 Leicester fans. This went on for several minutes before they all chorused: 'You're going to score in a minute'. Suitably inspired, Leicester's 11-year- old mascot thumped the ball in.

Stats Life

THE Aberlour Malt for freak fact goes to Dr David Lowry, from Stoneleigh, Surrey, for this:

'Has the total number of spectators watching England, Scotland and Northern Ireland play in World Cup qualifiers ever before added up to less than half the crowd for Wales? Scotland (7,000), England (2,378), and Northern Ireland (10,500) equals 19,878. Wales in Cardiff: 40,000.'

More malt next week. All freak facts to Football Diary, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.