Football: Republic confident of escaping censure

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The Independent Online
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND officials are optimistic that Uefa, football's European governing body, will not throw them out of Euro 2000 as punishment for the Irish government's refusal to grant visas to Yugoslav players.

Hopes were raised after it emerged that Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, intended using the game as a propaganda exercise.

A European Union representative from Finland, who this week attended talks in Belgrade when a peace formula was produced for the Kosovo crisis, said that Milosevic made specific mention of the Republic of Ireland v Yugoslavia match - due to take place at Lansdowne Road today but called off after the Irish government refused to admit the Yugoslavs.

The Football Association of Ireland's chief executive, Bernard O'Byrne, said: "This seems to underline our point to Uefa when we argued that they should order the game to be postponed. Our main concern was that the Yugoslav government would use the game as a big propaganda opportunity. We wanted to avoid that because it would go against everything that the FAI - and Uefa - are all about, which is football."

The Premiership referees officer Phillip Don has welcomed plans to wire match officials for sound next season. Don said trials of the system have proved useful in allowing referees and their assistants to communicate over the noise of fans and to discuss key decisions.

"We piloted it in a couple of games in the season just finished and we're hoping that the communication between the three officials will assist in the control of the match," he said. "We've done it in two games and the referees and the assistants have certainly used it. Now we obviously need to put it into place in the Premier League on a full scale and we're now putting together a system.

"They've used it in rugby union for three or four years at international level and at Allied Dunbar One level. We're just moving with the times. We believe it can assist the match officials in controlling the game."

Tottenham have made a move for the Leicester striker Emile Heskey. The club's director of football David Pleat confirmed: "It is true that we have spoken to Leicester." Spurs were reported to have bid pounds 6m for the youngster, who is likely to be on the bench for England today.

Dick Advocaat's summer sales began yesterday when the striker Stephane Guivarc'h left Rangers to join his former club, Auxerre, for pounds 3.4m.

Steve Bruce made his first signing as Huddersfield manager - the former Blackburn winger George Donis, in a deal worth over pounds 1m. The 30-year-old Greek joins on a three-year contract from AEK Athens.

Watford have released the former England, Aston Villa and Wolves winger, Tony Daley, who started only seven games last season.