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Football: Irish will fight any sanctions

THE REPUBLIC of Ireland's top football official has warned Uefa that any attempt to throw them out of the European Championship over the cancellation of tomorrow's qualifier with Yugoslavia in Dublin will be met with the fiercest resistance.

Bernard O'Byrne, the chief executive and general secretary of the Football Association of Ireland, said it would demand a personal hearing with European football's governing body if threatened with expulsion. The decision to call off tomorrow's match came on Wednesday after the Irish government refused to issue visas to the Yugoslav players - a day before a proposed peace deal in the Balkans was announced.

O'Byrne said: "I know that Uefa are angry about what has happened over the past few days, but they must surely accept that it was not an FAI decision. It was taken out of our hands.

"We are told by Uefa's competitions secretary, Guido Tognoni, that there is a range of measures open to them, including deducting three points from Ireland, ordering that the game should be restaged on a neutral ground or even expulsion from the Championship.

"If Uefa decide on any form of punitive action, we will want a personal hearing of our case."