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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Turkey will appeal Fifa punishment

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Turkish media is very angry with Fifa's punishment which orders Turkey to play its next six home games abroad and behind closed doors, in a move seen as jeopardising its chances of qualifying for Euro 2008.

The punishment imposed by FIFA was in response to violent scenes witnesses at their World Cup qualifier against Switzerland in Istanbul.

Turkey has vowed to appeal the sanction, which their sports minister described as politically motivated, and influenced by the Swiss Fifa President Sepp Blatter.

The sanctions, which apply to official games and not friendly ones, are among the most severe handed out to a national association and papers said it unfairly punished the fans.

In fact, that means that Turkey must play their entire qualification programme for the 2008 European championships abroad. They have been drawn alongside European champions Greece, Norway, Bosnia, Hungary, Moldova and Malta in qualifying Group C.

"What is the spectator's crime? An unfair punishment from Fifa," the daily Sabah newspaper said in a front-page headline.

What's more, the paper published Fifa's phone and fax numbers and called on readers to send a protest letter to Blatter, providing a sample letter in English.

"It is obvious that you don't want to see our country in Switzerland at Euro 2008 but I am sure we will succeed in qualifying for the finals. We will be there," the text said.

Fifa said in a statement yesterday that two Turkish players, Alpay Ozalan and Emre Belozoglu, would be banned for six matches as would Switzerland's Benjamin Huggel who admitted kicking Turkish assistant coach Mehmet Ozdilek.

Turkey were also fined 200,000 Swiss francs ($154,200). A number of other players and officials from both teams received fines and suspensions.

Turkey's football federation said it would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Fifa board held a meeting on Monday and Tuesday at their Zurich headquarters to decide the sanctions.

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