By STEVE TONGUE THERE was relief in Leeds and anger in Istanbul yesterday as European football's governing body, UEFA, ruled that next...
THERE was relief in Leeds and anger in Istanbul yesterday as European football's governing body, UEFA, ruled that next Thursday's Uefa Cup semi-final second leg between David O'Leary's side and Galatasaray should be played at Elland Road without any visiting supporters.
After West Yorkshire police had said they could not guarantee the safety of Galatasaray followers, the Turkish Football Federation asked for the game to be moved to a neutral venue. That would have proved impractical at such short notice, even if Uefa had favoured it, and would not have ruled out the possibility of clashes between rival supporters following the death of two Leeds fans, Kevin Speight and Christopher Loftus, before the first leg last week.
Galatasaray y will have the support of only 80 invited VIP guests, who, UEFA says, must behave ``in a dignified and restrained manner''.
There will be a minute's silence and both teams will wear black armbands, which did not happen at the first game. But a statement from UEFA also emphasised that Galatasaray as a club bore no responsibility for the murders in Istanbul, for which four Turks have now been charged. A Turkish government minister accused Leeds of trying to use the murders as a means of advancing to the UEFA Cup final and said England was incapable of hosting the 2006 World Cup.
``They're trying to turn the murders into their advantage to win the match,'' said State Minister Fikret Unlu, the top government official in charge of sports.
Galatasaray's vice-chairman Mehmet Cansun, aware that his team will now be at a disadvantage as they defend their 2-0 lead, said the decision was ``disgusting.''
* Independent News service