Sven: 'Stay away from Turkey'

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The Independent Football

The England football coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson, today issued an impassioned plea to fans to stay away from the team's crucial European qualifying match against Turkey next month - and watch it on television instead.

Writing in The Independent on Sunday, he says crowd trouble at the qualification decider in Istanbul on 11 October could see the England squad kicked out of the tournament. "I'm appealing to every England fan not to travel to Turkey. Please listen to all the advice from the FA, Government and police - please stay at home."

His warning follows growing concern that England fans will defy a ticket ban and travel to Turkey, as they did for England's game against Macedonia earlier this month.

Five hundred supporters managed to find tickets, despite being asked not to travel to Skopje and being denied official tickets.

Police and the Football Association believe the heated atmosphere surrounding the high-pressure game in Turkey could lead to crowd trouble.

Turkish fans are famous for their passion and intimidation of opposing teams during home games, and there is a history of trouble between the two sets of fans.

Turkey need to win to ensure automatic qualification for next summer's championship in Portugal, whereas England need only to draw.

England were fined £70,000 for crowd trouble that followed April's home tie against Turkey in Sunderland.

Eriksson said: "England players will walk out into one of the hottest footballing atmospheres they will have ever experienced. This is our biggest match since we played Brazil in the quarter-final of the World Cup. It would be devastating for the players if they won in Turkey and then due to problems off the field [were] unable to play in next summer's finals."