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Updated Friday November 19, 1999
Turkey must be brought to book, say Irish
By Ken Lawrence

Turkey may soon have to be considered off-limits for Europe's leading footballers and travelling fans after the latest disgraceful scenes which heralded the country's entrance to next summer's European Championship Finals.

Had Tony Cascarino been rescued by riot police and his own Republic of Ireland team-mates after being attacked by English players and supporters on Wednesday night, then questions would be asked in the corridors of power and heads would undoubtedly roll.

But when it comes to Turkey, the kind of mayhem which erupted in Bursa is accepted by UEFA and FIFA with an apathetic shrug of shameful hypocrisy.

The Irish FA is so disenchanted by UEFA and FIFA that while it reported the outrages of the evening to the official UEFA observer, it holds out no hope of being taken seriously - even after manager Mick McCarthy stressed: 'We expect it to be a battle on the pitch but I don't expect my players to have to fight their way off it.'

England's attempt to secure the 2006 World Cup Finals is continually being undermined by bureaucrats within this country and some decision-makers of the world's leading football authorities who maintain that a tiny, hardened hooligan element disfigures the country's reputation.

Thugs bent on causing trouble may have been arrested in their dozens during this week's Battle of Britain double-header yet the players of Scotland and England went about their business sure in the knowledge that some idiot was not about to attack them.

But in Turkey, as we have witnessed time and time again, security occurs more by accident than design.

Even when the Turks win - or in this case earn the draw that books their place in Holland and Belgium next summer - they still riot.

It was not just fans who dashed on to the pitch to confront Cascarino after his bust-up with defender Beserler Ali Eren but members of the Turkish dug-out, too. The 37-year-old striker, who announced his retirement from international football yesterday after winning his 88th cap, relived his personal nightmare on the journey back to Dublin.

He said: 'It all started with an off-the-ball incident with a Turkish player who said I'd tried to butt him and tried to punch me.

'Then, at the end, he punched me in the face. I was forced to defend myself but when I looked round, people seemed to be coming at me from every direction.

'Luckily, some of the riot police got to me and pulled me out of there. I don't know what would have happened otherwise.'

This time, UEFA must do more than issue a paltry fine and a warning to the Turks; it must consider whether it is good for the health of foreign teams to play there at all.

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Two more held by Turkish police