Football: Turkish wildfire

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The Independent Online
Today's First Division derby in Istanbul could provide a fire and ice scenario as Fenerbahce and Galatasaray look to the two highest scorers in the Turkish League to tip the balance.

Elvir Bolic and Hakan Sukur share many characteristics. Born within a month of each other, both are Muslims, both have worn the Galatasaray colours and both have a fierce hunger for goals. But in terms of temperament, they might as well be continents apart.

In Sukur, Galatasaray have the fire of a moody but brilliant goalscorer who is the leading marksman in Turkey with 20 goals. Fenerbahce, on the other hand, have the icy cool temperament of Bolic, who has 14 goals to his name. Fenerbahce, lying second and three points behind Galatasaray in the league, are still reeling from the sacking last week of their Brazilian coach Sebastiao Lazaroni. He was dismissed after a 2-1 defeat by Istanbul rivals Besiktas, who were playing with 10 men.

The Hamburg coach, Felix Magath, wants a reform of the Bundesliga, in which play-offs would determine the champions and relegation would become a thing of the past. "We should give spectators more decisive games. When it's almost about life and death, there's more excitement and more quality.

"The league should be closed, there would be no relegation. That would mean that the fans weren't so aggressive. The hate which comes over now results from fear of relegation."

The Former Olympique Marseille striker Alen Boksic, now with Juventus, said he would visit the French club's ex-chairman Bernard Tapie in prison. The former politician Tapie, 56, entered La Sante prison, in Paris, on Monday to begin an eight-month sentence for rigging a First Division match between Marseille and Valenciennes in 1993.

Unrest in Albania sparked by the collapse of pyramid investment schemes has forced the cancellation of a friendly against Macedonia. Albania's government cancelled all sports events when demonstrators set fire to public buildings in several cities. Albania are scheduled to play World Cup home qualifiers against Ukraine on 29 March and Germany on 2 April.

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