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England May Be Ejected From Euros

Updated:
LIEGE, Belgium (AP) — England might face expulsion from the European Championships if its fans persist in violence, European soccer's ruling body said Sunday.

``UEFA will have to consider the future presence of the English team if there is any more violence,'' said Gerard Aigner, chief executive of UEFA.

Asked if England could be kicked out, UEFA president Lennart Johansson said: ``That shouldn't be excluded.''

England returns to Charleroi for its third game against Romania on Tuesday. If the fans misbehave again, the team could told to go home and forget an expected quarterfinal with Italy.

``This cannot go on,'' Johansson said. ``I hope that hooligans will understand what they are doing to their country.

``We cannot neglect what happened in Istanbul, in Copenhagen, in Brussels, in Charlerloi. We cannot take responsibility that someone gets killed on the street or cannot walk safely in the streets.''

Prime Minister Tony Blair, in Portugal for a European Union summit, said he hoped the UEFA threat would end the violence.

``Hopefully, this threat will bring to their senses anyone tempted to continue the mindless thuggery that has brought such shame to the country,'' he said.

Johansson noted that in the stadiums at Eindhoven, Netherlands, and Charleroi, the English fans were well behaved and the English team played fairly.

``UEFA calls upon the government of UK and the FA to take every step to stop English hooligans from traveling abroad,'' Aigner said. ``They are a disgrace to their country and a blight on the national team.

``The violence has left us wondering why more wasn't done to prevent hooligans traveling abroad. This cannot be allowed. The UK government owes it to everyone to take steps. We cannot allow more people to spoil the tournament. It is a matter of urgency.''

UEFA called an emergency meeting of its executive committee to discuss the violence that led to some 850 detentions and 56 injuries in connection with Saturday's England-Germany Euro 2000 game in Charleroi.

Many of the fans were detained in Brussels ahead of the game. There was also violence in the main square in Charleroi during the buildup to the game and also afterward. Almost all those detained were English although some of the fighting in Charleroi involved German fans.

Police said most of the injuries were minor, but one English fan was stabbed in the back and is in hospital.

Tournament director Alain Courtois and Brussels mayor Francois-Xavier de Donnea criticized the British government.

``Everybody did what he had to do,'' Courtois said. ``But what has the British government done?''

``Too many dangerous hooligans reached Belgium,'' said de Donnea. ``Screening in Britain was not what we expected it to be.''

David Davies, executive director of the English Football Association, said his federation supported the zero tolerance policy of the Belgian police in dealing with soccer hooligans.

``We regret any incident,'' he said. ``One is one too many as far as we are concerned.

``We know the zero tolerance policy that is being followed here and we support it. It is too early for an evaluation but as far as any inquiry is concerned we will play our full part.''
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