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Swiss authorities block Yugoslav Euro2000 prize money and shift burden of proof to Yugoslavia

Euro2000: Yugoslavia were eliminated by the Netherlands 6-1 in the quarterfinals Keystone

Yugoslavia says the Swiss authorities are demanding proof from its football federation that it is independent of Belgrade. Until then payment of the Yugoslav national team's prize money for making it into the Euro2000 quarterfinals will be blocked.

The money, estimated at SFr7.8 million, was due to be transferred from the European football body, UEFA, to the Yugoslav football federation, as the standard sum for all quarter-finalists.

Branko Bulatovic, secretary-general of the Yugoslav football federation confirmed, “In order to get the money, we have to convince the Swiss authorities that our organisation is independent of the Yugoslav state.”

The decision whether to pay Yugoslavia has been kicked back and forth with Switzerland initially demanding that UEFA prove the Yugoslav football federation is not under state control. Yugoslavia is subject to international sanctions and its president, Slobodan Milosevic has been accused of being responsible for severe human rights violations in the Balkans.

UEFA in turn, says the Yugolsav football federation and the national side are independent of Belgrade and has demanded that Switzerland proves the contrary. It argues that Yugoslavia, as a member of the Zurich-based international football federation, FIFA, is in the clear, as FIFA’s own rules require independence as a criteria for membership.

While Switzerland has maintained diplomatic relations with Belgrade, it has banned capital transfers to organisations linked to Milosevic’s regime. The European Union also has similar sanctions, which do allow business with Yugoslav companies, but only if it can be proved the firms in question do not finance Milosevic’s regime.

Meanwhile, Bulatovic, says he is confident the money will be paid.

“Our federation statute book has all the necessary information. We are sending it to Berne.”

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR