Sven spells out the fall-out from fan trouble in Turkey

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The Independent Football

Sven Goran Eriksson is desperate to keep the focus on football in the build-up to Saturday's decisive European Championship qualifier between England and Turkey.

But England's Swedish coach is only too aware of the potential damage that could be done to the game in this country if violence resulting from the presence of irresponsible fans who defy the Football Association's implorings to stay away from the match was to lead to the European governing body, Uefa, carrying out a threat to throw England out of international competition.

He said: "If we were thrown out, it would be awful, a disaster. Not just for myself, the players and the FA, though. For the whole of England and however many millions there are who support the national team."

Referring to the banning of English clubs from European competition 20 years ago after the Heysel disaster, he added: "England tasted that at club level many years ago and I think it was very bad for English football. When you play international football, you always get better and better."

The FA turned down their allocation of tickets and made it abundantly clear that England fans should not travel to the match because of the history of trouble at club and international matches involving England and Turkey. However, it is thought that as many as 150 England fans will attempt to breach the Turkish authorities' elaborate security system to attend the match.

Even if they could not get into the stadium, their presence in Turkey at the time of the match could generate trouble, which could lead to Uefa, the European game's governing body, acting on their threat to throw England out of the Euro 2004 finals. Further bans could also be imposed.

An immediate complication from that would be that Eriksson, who has made no secret of his eventual desire to return to club management, would be left with, effectively, no job to do. "What should I do then?" he wondered. "With no international football, there is no meaning to going around looking at football players if you can't pick a team."

Eriksson does not blame his opposite number, Senol Gunes, for turning down the chance of holding a joint press conference in an attempt to show unity between the nations. "I know him and I respect him," he said. "As myself, he wants to be focused on football and that's it. We have all done everything we possibly could do. So I prefer not to think about that any more. From next week, we will focus on how to try to beat Turkey, and that's it."

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