Official denial

Euro 96 diary
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The Independent Online
Thanks to Guillermo Amor's late winner for Spain against Romania, this is not an issue now. But shouldn't Uefa officials have been aware of the implications of using English officials for the Group B France v Bulgaria game at Newcastle last Tuesday when there was a good chance that one of the teams would face England in the quarter-finals?

A David Elleray style flourish of 10 yellow cards, or a "convenient" dismissal of a French or Bulgarian player might have led to accusations of bias, or worse. Happily referee Dermot Gallagher was comparatively restrained during his time on the field before injury, and his replacement Paul Durkin was a master of diplomacy.

MINUTES after Scotland were eliminated from Euro 96, a street vendor was trying to sell his remaining supply of flags: "Monster hankies, half price."

MAY WE suggest a subject for discussion between partners in those tediously fallow periods interrupting Euro 96 matches. An American sports journalist, Mariah Burton Nelson is publishing a book in this country in August, fascinatingly entitled: The Stronger Women Get, the More Men Love Football.

IN THIS week of copious humble pie being consumed, our football correspondent Ian Ridley has his own apology to make. In suggesting that Russia would win the tournament, he may have unwittingly given the impression that they were a good football team, who had the right blend of talent and application to upset the more fancied nations. He now realises that this was entirely without foundation and accepts responsibility for any offence caused, which was purely unintentional. As partial redemption, he points out that he did predict that Italy would not reach the quarter-finals, and in fact had seven of the eight quarter-finalists correct.

THE official Dutch media guide remains a delight. It tells us that Gaston Taument "was a dress-man" while Winston Bogarde "plays with a lot of gold at his hands".

BANNER of the Week: Despite initial local opposition to France due to their non-selection of David Ginola, the Geordies have plainly been won over by the Gallic skills hence a white sheet high in the stands daubed with the slogan "Howay the Frogs."

HRISTO STOICHKOV departed the tournament in typical style. Not content with adding to his long feud with Marcel Desailly, which is linked to racist remarks Stoichkov is alleged to have made at the 1994 European Cup final between Milan and Barcelona, he turned on his own bench after the third French goal. Pistov by the substitution of Balakov, Hristo let rip a stream of insults while play went on for the final minutes. Rumours that Kevin Keegan might sign him can be discounted - he gets that from John Beresford.

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