Football: Fifa slap world ban on Blinker

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The Independent Online
The Sheffield Wednesday striker Regi Blinker has become the latest foreign import in peril. The Dutchman has been banned from playing worldwide by Fifa, football's world governing body, for apparently signing contracts with Wednesday and the Italian club Udinese.

The suspension comes into effect immediately, starting with this afternoon's game against Sunderland, and will apply until further notice. Blinker has been asked to forward an explanation by Friday. A Fifa spokesman said: "The ban applies until then at least and perhaps beyond. We want to find out why he seemed to sign contracts with different clubs, one in England and one in Italy."

The Football Association immediately asked Fifa to consider lifting the ban until then. The FA spokesman, Steve Double, said: "Fifa have informed us about Blinker and we are awaiting a response to our request."

Blinker joined Wednesday in a pounds 250,000 move from Feyenoord in March, but it is believed that two months earlier he signed a document pledging his intent to sign for Udinese when his contract expired in the summer. Now the Italians have complained and Fifa has decided to act while the affair is being investigated.

Graham Mackerell, the Wednesday secretary, said: "The suspension is totally unfair on Sheffield Wednesday. We are totally innocent, as are Feyenoord. This is purely a matter between Regi and Udinese. A suspension punishes Sheffield Wednesday, but there is no suggestion that we have done anything wrong. We paid a transfer fee for Regi in the proper manner and international clearance was granted."

Blinker refused to comment, while the Wednesday manager, David Pleat, hopes that the suspension will be lifted so that Blinker can stay in the squad for today's game at Roker Park.

The Blackpool midfielder Gary Brabin has been fined pounds 500 and banned for two games by the FA for the incident that led to the Brentford captain, Jamie Bates, being taken to hospital with an oxygen mask over his face. Brabin clashed with Bates in the Griffin Park tunnel after the sides' 1-1 draw on 14 September. Brabin is alleged to have punched Bates in the back of the neck.

Brabin was arrested and taken to Chiswick police station for questioning before being released. A disciplinary committee in Birmingham yesterday ruled that Brabin was guilty of ungentlemanly and improper behaviour. He will now miss five games, as he starts a three-match suspension on 3 December for accruing 21 disciplinary points. He was also ordered to pay costs.

Uefa, European football's governing body, has called a special disciplinary hearing to investigate George Weah's role in a tunnel fracas after Wednesday's Champions' League match in which the Porto defender Jorge Costa suffered a broken nose.

The head of Portugal's referees organisation, Jose Cruz Pereira, stepped down yesterday amid a nationwide scandal of allegations of bribery and match-fixing involving club directors and referees.

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