Italy in Euro threat

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The Independent Online
ITALY have threatened to withdraw from the European Championship if their 8 October qualifying match against Croatia is not switched out of the war-torn country.

"I am not taking my team to Split and neither am I taking it to Zagreb," Antonio Matarrese, the president of the Italian Soccer Federation, said. "Neither I nor the coach nor the players feel like playing where there's a war going on. We are prepared to forfeit the game. You can even throw us out of the competition, but I am not taking my team to Croatia."

The Italians want the match switched to Austria and a decision is expected from Uefa next week.

Croatia's soccer federation reacted angrily to Italy's proposal and said it will not accept any relocation of the match. "We do expect Uefa will finally accept the fact Croatia is a safe place," the Croatian federation president Ante Pavlovic said.

He said the security situation had actually improved after the recent military offensive. "Now there are no more fears of shelling of urban centres," he said.

Italy are at present second with 13 points in Group Four, behind Croatia, but well ahead of third-placed Lithuania. The top two teams will qualify.