Turkey face World Cup exile after fracas
Friday 18 November 2005
There was little evidence of Rudyard Kipling's dictum, in "If", being followed by winners or losers in this week's World Cup play-offs as those twin impostors of victory and defeat received widely different responses.
While Australia partied and the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago declared yesterday a national holiday, Turkey were pondering the possibility of being barred from the 2010 World Cup after their violent reaction to failing to reach next summer's finals. Their defeat by Switzerland, on away goals, was followed by fighting in the tunnel between players and support staff which left one Swiss player hospitalised, missile throwing from the Istanbul crowd, and intemperate criticism of the referees involved.
Fifa yesterday announced an inquiry into the incident with their Swiss president, Sepp Blatter, threatening expulsion from the 2010 event. Blatter said that he was "hopping mad". Bahrain could also be in trouble after supporters rained missiles on to Trinidad players towards the end of their match in Manama, won 1-0 by T&T, and the referee was pushed and shoved in an injury-time melee sparked by a disallowed goal.
And from Australia came allegations that another play-off had ended in defeat for the "bad guys" as Uruguay were accused of attempting to intimidate their hosts in the tunnel.
It is Turkey, however, who face the severest punishments with Swiss defender Stephane Grichting, an unused substitute, taken to hospital after the tunnel fight with a groin injury. Grichting required a catheter and will need seven to 10 days to recover.
The incident followed an unsavoury build-up which provoked diplomatic exchanges. At Istanbul the Swiss were kept waiting for two hours at passport control and baggage reclaim. Police struggled to hold back fans shouting abuse and the team bus was pelted with eggs. The Swiss foreign minister Micheline Calmy-Rey sent a letter of complaint to the Turkish government, calling the team's reception "unacceptable behaviour". Any punishment will be decided by 9 December. The Turks have already received two fines for disturbances during their qualifying campaign.
In Sydney the fighting began before the match and several Australian players claimed that the Uruguayan striker Richard Morales and Australian centre-back Tony Popovic grabbed each other by the throat in the tunnel.
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