City demand BBC apology over Benjani 'scare story'

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The Independent Online

Manchester City have called on the BBC to apologise to Benjani Mwaruwari after it was claimed the Zimbabwean striker could be banned from playing in Britain.

The BBC's Inside Sport reported on Monday that the option of banning Zimbabwean athletes from competing in Britain is being discussed as part of a strategy to put pressure on Robert Mugabe's government.

Benjani, who arrived from Portsmouth on transfer deadline day in January, was named as one player who could be affected. However, yesterday a City spokesman said: "This is the worst type of scare story which shows a lack of editorial integrity from the programme makers.

"Although we are pleased that the BBC have today been quickly distancing themselves from the claim regarding Benjani, it is important to make the position crystal clear regarding his ability to live and work in the UK. The player last month received a three-and-a-half-year work permit from the Home Office to play for Manchester City. We have been assured work permits are non-negotiable. The programme makers and the BBC should apologise to the player immediately."

The BBC said that Benjani was not mentioned in the programme but included in a website report, which has been taken off the site. A spokesperson said: "Inside Sport reported a legitimate story last night. At no time did Inside Report report Benjani would be affected. Unfortunately he was included in a website report. Any reference has now been taken from the website."

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