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Fifa hands six-match penalty to Turkey


Football's governing body, Fifa, ruled on Tuesday that Turkey must play their next six official home matches behind closed doors and on neutral ground.

The ruling, which includes a fine of SFr200,000 ($154,000), follows violence that marred the end of a World Cup play-off game in Istanbul between Turkey and Switzerland in November.

A statement after a two-day meeting of Fifa’s disciplinary committee in Zurich said that two Turkish players, Alpay Özalan, and Emre Belozoglu, would be banned for six matches.

A similar punishment was handed down to Switzerland’s Benjamin Huggel who admitted kicking Turkish assistant coach Mehmet Özdilek.

Özdilek has been ordered to stay away from soccer for 12 months for his part in the incidents.

Fifa said that the decisions could be taken to its appeals committee, with a final ruling lying with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

In other rulings, Turkey’s Serkan Balci has been suspended for two games and Switzerland’s physiotherapist Stephan Meyer received a similar penalty.


The Turkish sports minister, Mehmet Ali Sahin, confirmed that an appeal would be lodged.

“I describe this decision as unacceptable. This is a political decision rather than a sports decision,” he told the NTV news channel.

Swiss Football Association spokesman Pierre Benoit commented: “We are very surprised at the seriousness of the punishments, but we don’t want to compare our punishment with the Turkish punishment.”

Fifa’s Swiss president, Sepp Blatter had said after the match that Fifa would act “fast and harshly” after the violence that marred Turkey’s 4-2 win in the second leg of the play-off.

Away goals

Switzerland qualified because after winning the first leg 2-0 at home in Bern, the away goals in Istanbul counted in their favour.

Turkey criticised Blatter for his comments on the violent scenes, and he later said that he had spoken as a Swiss fan and not as a president.

Turkish players had complained of ill treatment after the first leg, arguing the Swiss press, players and coach insulted them.

After the end of the game in Istanbul, both teams raced from the pitch to escape angry fans, and television footage showed a melee breaking out among players in the tunnel on the way to the dressing rooms.

Swiss defender Stéphane Grichting was injured and hospitalised with a groin injury.

Fifa said its decisions would now be sent to those concerned, with a detailed, reasoned explanation following within 30 days.

swissinfo with agencies

The Turkish Football Federation has been ordered to play their next six official games at a neutral venue in another country affiliated to Uefa (European football union) with a minimum distance of 500 kms to the Turkish border.

The sanctions, which apply to official matches and not friendlies, are considered among the most severe handed out to a national association and will hit Turkey’s chances of qualifying for the next European championship in 2008, to be staged in Switzerland and Austria.

Huggel’s ban means he will be suspended for all Switzerland’s World Cup matches in Germany, unless they reach the final, and is also likely to miss games at Euro 2008.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR