Football: Kluivert's insult claim

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The Independent Online
THE DUTCH striker Patrick Kluivert, who was banned for two World Cup matches for striking Lorenzo Staelens, said he lost control when the Belgian defender called him "a rapist".

Kluivert, cleared of rape charges two months ago, was shown the red card after he hit Staelens 10 minutes before the end of the 0-0 draw between the Netherlands and Belgium on Saturday.

"Staelens called me a rapist," the striker told the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, breaking his four-day silence over the incident. Kluivert said he could cope with racist abuse: "I am used to that on the football field. It doesn't hurt any more. But when I heard that [rapist], I just couldn't keep it in.

"I am not ashamed of what I said to him," Kluivert added. "He reminded me on the field, in a very painful way, of something that happened in the past in my private life."

A 20-year-old Dutchwoman, Marielle Boon, brought charges against Kluivert in June last year, accusing the footballer and three of his friends of raping her at his home in Amsterdam after a night out. The court of appeal in Amsterdam threw the case out in February, ruling that there was insufficient evidence.

Sepp Blatter, the president of world football's ruling body, Fifa, is confident that Sunday's fixture between the United States and Iran will take place, despite reported threats from the Iranians yesterday that they are considering pulling out of France 98 following the screening on French television of an American film seen as projecting a negative image of Iran.

"We will, I'm sure, see that people can go out on the field of play and shake hands, even if their governments do not get along," Blatter said. He added that groups of Iranian exiles have threatened to disrupt the match and that extra security precautions are being taken.

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