Referee in ban appeal: Footballl

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The Independent Online
Kurt Rothlisberger, the international referee accused of attempted bribery, yesterday appealed against a life ban imposed by Uefa, football's European governing body.

Uefa's control and disciplinary committee, which handed out the punishment last Thursday, confirmed it had received the written appeal well within the stipulated deadline.

Rothlisberger, who has officiated at both European and World Cup matches, was barred for alleged attempted bribery in the Champions' Cup match between Grasshopper and Auxerre in October 1996.

The former Fifa referee rejected the charge that he was involved with any bribery attempt and said the whole problem started after a casual conversation he held with the Grasshopper manager, Erich Vogel, was taken out of context.

"Certainly it was dumb speaking in a purely hypothetical fashion before the game about bribery possibilities," said Rothlisberger's lawyer, Peter Treyer. "But the claim of attempted bribery is without any foundation."

Rothlisberger has faced controversy before, and was criticised by Fifa, the game's world governing body, for failing to give a foul against Germany - the victors - in the 70th minute of a 1994 World Cup match against Belgium.

The Swiss newspaper Blick, meanwhile, has accused Rothlisberger of offering to bribe the Spanish referee of a World Cup qualifying match between Switzerland and Norway, which the Swiss lost 1-0 last November.

Rothlisberger claimed it was Blick that had tried to bribe him to assure a Swiss victory, but subsequently said the matter was not so clear-cut.

While the allegations involve an international match, Fifa said it would not investigate the referee. "What has been going on between Blick and Rothlisberger has just been rumours with no solid evidence to back any of these allegations up," Andreas Herren, a Fifa spokesman, said.

Herren said that neither the Norwegians nor the Swiss had complained about the way the qualifier had been conducted.