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Laporte tells Platini to butt out of anthem row

PARIS, Oct 18 (Reuters) - French junior sports minister Bernard Laporte told Michel Platini to mind his own business after the UEFA president said stopping international soccer matches because a national anthem is booed would be absurd.

"The UEFA president says what he wants. Everyone must know his place. The president of the Republic and the government took measures that concern them," former France rugby team coach Laporte told sports daily L'Equipe on Saturday.

"Because in French law booing the national anthem is a crime punishable by a 7,500-euro fine and six months in prison. It's not UEFA's business."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants matches to be halted in case of a repeat of the incidents at a friendly between France and Tunisia last 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," former France playmaker and captain Platini told French daily Le Monde on Friday.

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

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.


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