Friendly Fifa aids Cantona

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The Independent Online
Eric Cantona has been given permission by Fifa to play in two more charity games in France, following a game at the weekend near Paris. But it is up to the Football Association to consider relaxing the Manchester United man's global suspension, which does not expire until 1 October, if he is to take part in similar matches in this country.

That permission is unlikely to be sought by United, nor granted by the FA, which views with misgivings his officially-sanctioned breach of its punishment for kicking a Crystal Palace supporter.

However, the world governing body has defended its decision to allow Cantona to turn out on Saturday for the Variety Club of France against an amateur club in Marly-le-Roi.

He scored in the 2-2 draw in aid of Action Michel Platini, a group set up by the former French captain and coach to help combat drug abuse.

"Permission had been given on 27 April to the French footballers' union in respect of their request for Cantona to play up to three matches under the framework of the Variety Club," a Fifa spokesman said. "When you remember that he was sentenced in the form of community service, this could be regarded in the same light as that."

United are anxious to deter every charity in the country from seeking Cantona's patronage and spokesman Ken Ramsden said: "It should be seen in the context of a one-off for a good cause that Eric wanted to play in and Fifa were happy to allow."

Cantona said: "I have been authorised to play charity games. Playing again is fantastic and to do so for a humanitarian cause is even better."

The FA is less content and will ask for an explanation from Fifa. Spokesman Mike Parry said: "We did not know anything about this. If Sepp Blatter has given him clearance to play in a charity game for a good cause that is a matter for himself and his senior officers at Fifa."

n Paris St-Germain's Liberian striker, George Weah, has agreed a move to the Italian club, Milan. No financial details have been released, but Weah, twice African footballer of the year, is due in Italy by the end of the week.