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By ESPN Staff
Oct 17, 2008

Platini: Stopping over booed anthem "absurd"

PARIS, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Stopping soccer international matches because a national anthem is booed would be absurd, UEFA president Michel Platini was quoted as saying on Friday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants matches to be halted in case of a repeat of the incidents at a friendly between France and Tunisia on Tuesday, when the French anthem was jeered.

"If you stop a match because the anthem is booed, you can also stop it as soon as a player is booed or a goalkeeper is jeered while kicking the ball out, it's absurd," Platini told French daily Le Monde.

"And why not a policeman behind every fan?," added the former France playmaker and captain. "It would be better to educate the fans because in some countries, the anthems are never booed.

"Thirty years ago, when I played for France, the Marseillaise was booed at every stadium in France but at the time, politicians were not interested in football and nobody was shocked."

French Football Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes was summoned by Sarkozy on Wednesday and told matches should be stopped if the anthem was booed.

Escalettes made clear in an interview on Friday that any such measure would apply only to friendly internationals but admitted it would be tricky to implement.

"We have to handle this new situation," Escalettes told daily Le Parisien. "I don't feel capable of evacuating an entire stadium. What if people don't want to leave? And after that, what do they do once they're out on the streets?"

A crowd of nearly 75,000 was clearly in favour of the visitors on Tuesday with fans from France's large population of Tunisian descent packing the stadium.

Tunisia is a former French colony, like Morocco and Algeria, whose teams have also played France at the Stade de France in recent years with similar incidents.

French junior sports minister Bernard Laporte said after the incidents France should no longer play against its former North African colonies at the showcase stadium.

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