Uefa to make FA responsible for fans' behaviour

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The Independent Online

Uefa stood firm yesterday in insisting that the Football Association will have to take the responsibility for all outbreaks of disorder involving any England fans in Portugal.

Uefa stood firm yesterday in insisting that the Football Association will have to take the responsibility for all outbreaks of disorder involving any England fans in Portugal.

FA officials are furious that, having taken detailed precautions to monitor fans buying tickets from the official England supporters club, Uefa made other tickets available much more freely over the internet. And yesterday the Uefa communications director, William Gaillard, said that there could be no distinction between "official" England fans and those who had obtained tickets from other sources. "Uefa's position is that the English FA are responsible for the behaviour of all football fans from England," Gaillard said. "The FA and the British authorities have made tremendous efforts to keep hooligans out of Portugal and we recognise these efforts, but at the same time the proof of the pudding will be in the eating."

Gaillard added that their approach was the only way that Uefa could hold national associations accountable for the behaviour of supporters, with the ultimate threat of expulsion from the tournament in order to protect those other countries taking part.

The FA has pointed out to Uefa that it has sold more than 30,000 tickets for England's three group matches, with each fan having to apply separately and have their name checked against police intelligence records.

However, fans have also been able to buy tickets for England matches directly from Uefa through the internet, with each person able to buy up to four tickets.

The FA is concerned that many of these tickets could have fallen into the wrong hands or end up with ticket touts, and that through no fault of its own the FA will be viewed by Uefa as being responsible for them too.

The FA has also protested against plans to site large screens in popular beach resorts in Portugal, believing that they could provide a focus for trouble.

The main concern is that the events of 2000 might be repeated when, after outbreaks of crowd violence, Uefa threatened England with expulsion from the European Championship.

Sven Goran Eriksson, the England manager, has also made a personal appeal for supporters to behave and has backed the FA's stance against Uefa. He said: "The FA are doing everything they can to ensure that safety and security preparations are paramount. But the FA cannot be responsible for those fans who have bought tickets directly over the internet.

"Every team at Euro 2004 has challenges and pressures, but England is unique in having a Uefa warning hanging over us. It would be a tragedy, not only for the team but for millions of England fans, if events off the pitch denied them a chance of glory."

Police estimate 50,000 fans will travel to Portugal and that a further 200,000 English tourists will also be in the country.

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