FA will examine players' role in Istanbul fracas

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The Independent Football

The Football Association is to ask England players involved in the tunnel incident in Istanbul last weekend to provide their version of events.

The FA has been required to give a written submission to Uefa as part of the official investigation into the mêlée which erupted at half-time in the Euro 2004 qualifier in Turkey last Saturday. The FA is understood to have until the end of next week to complete their internal inquiries, which will include contacting several England players, such as David Beckham, Emile Heskey, Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell, as well as the head of security, Ray Whitworth.

The four were pictured at the heart of the incident, although it has been alleged that the Turkish players Alpay Ozalan and Hasan Sas provoked the scenes.

Alpay has tried to blame Beckham, while a Turkish Football Federation spokesman insisted: "Both sets of players were spitting and there were English players trying to punch, it's clear on the video."

The FA has asked Brendon Batson, a former deputy chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, to liaise with the England players.

The FAstarted preparations for Euro 2004 yesterday in the first of a series of meetings in Lisbon, held on the initiative of the British Government. Organ-isations represented included the FA, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the Home Office, the Foreign Office, the British Council, the Euro 2004 organising committee and the British and Portuguese police.

The FA is not expected to announce what charges, if any, Rio Ferdinand should face after missing a drugs test until next week - after his return to Elland Road on Saturday when Manchester United play Leeds.

The FA also said that a disciplinary hearing for the club's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, will take place on Monday. Ferguson elected to have a personal hearing after being charged with two counts arising from the win at Newcastle on 23 August.

One charge relates to alleged "improper conduct" and the other to claims that he used insulting or abusive language to the fourth official, Jeff Winter. Ferguson faces a touchline ban or a heavy fine, or both, if found guilty of the charges relating to his tirade against Winter and the referee, Uriah Rennie.

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