Aigner confirms expulsion threat

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The Independent Online

Uefa has warned England's supporters that it will not be afraid to exclude Sven Goran Eriksson's men from international competition if supporter misbehaviour continues into next summer.

As Gerhard Aigner looked forward yesterday to his last Champions' League final as chief executive of European football's governing body, he admitted that the lowest moment of his 34 years at Uefa had come 18 years ago today, when 39 Juventus supporters lost their lives after Liverpool fans sparked a riot before the European Cup final in Brussels.

It was the culmination of a series of violent incidents involving English supporters and Uefa clamped down by enforcing a ban on English clubs entering European competition which lasted five seasons.

"I really hope we never have to come to the kind of decision we made in 1985 where we banned teams from European competition, because it is not the purpose of our work," Aigner said. "But if extreme measures are needed to protect people we are prepared to take the steps required."

The England team came perilously close to suffering a similar punishment after the eruption of fighting before the Euro 2000 encounter with Germany in Charleroi.

An outright ban was not considered following the ugly scenes during the recent England international with Turkey in Sunderland, but a repeat of the Charleroi episode over the next 12 months seems almost certain to mean expulsion from competition.

The Football Association has already turned down its allocation of tickets for the return match with Turkey in October, but the potential for trouble would arguably be even greater during the finals in Portugal.

Aigner added: "We will have to work closely with the FA to contain the phenomenon of fans travelling without tickets, which can be very dangerous." But he praised the conduct of Celtic's fans before and during last week's Uefa Cup final in Seville, when they remained well-behaved despite the team's extra-time defeat by Porto. "The impeccable example of the Celtic fans in Seville proves it isn't always the case," he said.

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