Football: England's Hungary trip in the balance

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION has said that the Balkan crisis would have to deteriorate before England's friendly in Hungary at the end of next month is cancelled.

Speculation has already begun as to whether the match can go ahead, given that Hungary borders Serbia, where Nato are currently carrying out air strikes in response to the bloodshed in Kosovo.

One report indicated that the game on 28 April was to be called off due to the proximity of Budapest to Belgrade - about 180 miles - and the threat of terrorist attacks. The safety of the players will be the FA's main consideration, while the views of clubs may also be taken into account. However, because the game is almost a month away, no immediate decision will be taken.

Games in Macedonia and Yugoslavia had to be called off last weekend, while the Bosnian team were unable to fly out to Scotland, but Hungary did play a Euro 2000 qualifier at home to Liechtenstein last Saturday.

Steve Double, an FA spokesman, said: "The situation would have to deteriorate from how it is now for us to go that far [and call the match off]. But we are monitoring the situation and will take the Foreign Office advice on the correct way to proceed."