Football: Fiorentina appeal Uefa ban

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The Independent Online
FIORENTINA HAVE appealed against the decision to expel them from the Uefa Cup because of an explosion that injured a match official in last week's game against Zurich Grasshopper, the governing body of European football has said.

Uefa's appeals body will meet in Geneva on Sunday to deal with the case. Fiorentina are hoping to have the game replayed.

European football's governing body announced the ruling last Sunday. The game was played on 3 November in Salerno, and the fan who tossed the explosive device from the stands was said to be a supporter of rival Italian club Salernitana.

Uefa ruled that Fiorentina were responsible for order and security both inside and around the stadium, but said the "mitigating circumstances" stopped them being excluded from future Uefa club competitions.

The game was being played in Salerno instead of Florence because Fiorentina were serving a suspension from their Franchi stadium as a result of fan violence during a 1997 CupWinners' Cup game.

Uefa said Fiorentina's previous poor record had been taken into account in deciding on the expulsion.

Fiorentina and Salerno fans have a history of bitterness. But Fiorentina wanted to raise funds for victims of recent flooding in southern Italy and therefore played at their rival's stadium.

Fiorentina, the Italian lea-gue leaders, were 2-1 ahead at the end of the first half. Having won the first leg against the Swiss side 2-0, they expected to advance to the third round of the Uefa Cup. But the match was suspended after a Belgian official was injured by the device hurled from the stands at half-time. Grasshoppers will face Bordeaux in the third round if the ruling is upheld.

Louis van Gaal was under attack as Barcelona coach yesterday after a series of setbacks in the last week.

The Dutchman had his position questioned following defeats by Bayern Munich in the European Champions' League and Oviedo in the Spanish First Division.

Now a trip to Almeria for a confidence-boosting friendly against the Swedish side Helsingborg has backfired. A Barcelona team packed with eight internationals registered their third successive defeat as they went 2-0 down inside 12 minutes and failed to respond.

Van Gaal then found himself buffeted once more as the team were forced to go looking for a hotel in Almeria after fog ruled out the departure of their return flight. The unseasonably bad weather had still not lifted by yesterday morning, leaving the squad kicking their heels.

A series of opinion polls and editorials in the Catalan newspapers have called for the coach's departure as Barcelona all but conceded their chances of qualifying for the European Cup quarter- finals and then missed the opportunity of going top of their domestic league.

The Juventus coach, Marcello Lippi, will miss his club's Serie A game at Roma this weekend through suspension.

Lippi was punished for shou-ting at the referee at the end of last Sunday's 2-2 draw against Udinese. The coach and several players argued that the equaliser, scored in injury time, should have been disallowed because of a handball.