Turks to reject Eriksson's olive branch over qualifier

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The Independent Football

Fresh attempts to involve Sven Goran Eriksson in peace initiatives ahead of England's match in Turkey next month are to be made today but the chance of success appears bleak.

Senior figures in the Football Association are expected to bring up the possibility of a goodwill trip by the England coach to Istanbul when they meet their Turkish counterparts in a summit at the headquarters of the European governing body, Uefa, today.

Their idea would be for Eriksson and the Turkey coach, Senol Gunes, to hold a joint press conference appealing for calm before and during the Euro 2004 qualifier on 11 October, when England need only a draw to make next summer's finals.

However, the Turkish FA have already turned down an offer for Gunes to attend a similar occasion with Eriksson today, and are understood not to be keen on arranging a meeting in Istanbul.

Uefa will encourage any initiatives to increase cooperation between the associations, but they will leave the arrangement of the details to the respective associations.

The summit in Nyon, Switzerland, was called by Uefa after public statements about the match sent tensions surrounding the game soaring. Eriksson warned England fans that "they could be killed" if they went to Istanbul, while the Turkish FA president, Hanuk Ulusoy, retorted that Eriksson "has forgotten the Heysel disaster. Of course he doesn't want England fans in Turkey because he doesn't want them to see a defeat".

The meeting will be chaired by the Uefa chief executive, Gerhard Aigner, with the communications director, Mike Lee, and the security expert, Marc Timmer, also in attendance.

Lee said: "This meeting is a follow-up to the one held with the two FAs earlier in the summer. It's an opportunity for us to be fully updated on the preparations that have been made for this game.

"The main focus will be safety, security, policing and ticketing issues, and we will want to emphasise the importance of the right approach being taken to the build-up, both privately and publicly."

The FA delegation will be led by the chairman, Geoff Thompson, along with the director of football affairs, David Davies, the marketing director, Paul Barber, and the security officer, Ray Whitworth.

There will be a similar line-up in the Turkish delegation led by Ulusoy, plus police and security representatives from both countries.

The Sports Minister, Richard Caborn, has stepped up his efforts to persuade Sky TV to allow delayed transmission of the Istanbul match on terrestrial television. Caborn has written to Sky's chief executive, Tony Ball, putting forward the case and yesterday the minister instigated fresh contact between his officials and the satellite broadcaster.

Caborn said: "Sky were very helpful in allowing delayed transmission for the England v Italy game in 1997 where England qualified for the World Cup, and we are asking them to be helpful again. It also shows Uefa that we have been acting responsibly and doing everything to make sure that England's participation in the European Championship finals will not be put in jeopardy."

Sky have been reluctant to give any sort of indication about their feelings on the matter, and have yet to respond to the minister's call.

"We hope that tomorrow's meeting with the FAs and Uefa is successful and that we show we have worked together as much as possible to ensure that the match takes place without any problems," Caborn added.

England have leapfrogged Turkey in the latest rankings from Fifa, the world governing body. Eriksson's side have moved up two places to sixth following their recent wins over Macedonia and Liechtenstein, while Turkey have slipped to eighth.

Brazil, the world champions, France and Spain remain in the top three positions, and Argentina have moved up two places to fourth.