Football: Pompey switch riles ITV

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The Independent Online
KIT SYMONS, the 22-year-old Portsmouth defender, has unwittingly become the centre of a furious row between ITV and the Football Association of Wales, writes Rupert Metcalf.

Wales want Symons for their important World Cup qualifier against RCS (Representation of Czechs and Slovaks - formerly Czechoslovakia) in Ostrava next Wednesday, and they invoked Fifa rules to withdraw him from Sunday's scheduled First Division game against Wolves.

Pompey were equally keen for Symons to play in the important promotion encounter - so the game at Fratton Park has been brought forward to Saturday, with the approval of the Football League, at a cost to the club of about pounds 80,000 in lost television fees. ITV were due to screen the match in the Central, London Weekend, Meridian and Anglia regions.

'We are very disappointed to have lost a crucial promotion match,' Jeff Farmer, ITV's executive producer for football, said. 'I fail to appreciate the difference between Symons playing on a Saturday or a Sunday, when the Welsh squad is not scheduled to fly to Czechoslovakia until the Monday.'

Alun Evans, the FAW secretary, responded: 'I think television companies should realise that the game is about players playing for their country, and not just TV schedules.'

Turkey were banned from playing international matches in Izmir for six months by Fifa yesterday, following the disorder during England's World Cup win there last month, when players, officials and fans were struck by missiles. However, the punishment is devalued by the fact that Turkey's next home World Cup game is not until late October.

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