German Voices Sympathy over English Team's Predicament

Published June 19th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Germany refused on Monday to speculate on the possible exclusion of England from Euro 2000 because of their hooligans and how that would affect them qualifying from Group A. 

German delegation spokesman Wolfgang Niersbach told a press conference in Vaals that "we are not speculating on the possible exclusion of England. But we completely understand the feeling of powerlessness, which the England team would have if they were excluded. 

"We were in a similar situation at the 1998 World Cup because of incidents in Lens where we were in the dock. That's why we completely agree with the preventative measures taken by the German government for this event." 

Romania and Portugal are the other teams in group A. Portugal have already qualified but should England be thrown out of the competition, that could have an affect on Romania's and Germany's chances. 

On Tuesday, England meet Romania in Charleroi and Germany play Portugal in Rotterdam. Assuming they are not thrown out, England only need a draw to qualify for the quarterfinals. 

If England lose, they are out and Romania and Germany would to need to win by a bigger margin of goals to go through. 

After French police officer Daniel Nivel was seriously injured in Lens by German hooligans, the German football federation boss Edigius Braun suggested Germany be excluded from the competition. 

The German coach at the time Berti Vogts refused to withdraw, believing the team was in no way responsible for the behavior of supporters. 

European football's governing body UEFA on Sunday said Britain had not done enough to prevent the violence in Brussels and Charleroi in the 24 hours before the England-Germany match and further incidents in Brussels in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

Police made about 500 arrests in Brussels and Charleroi and nearly 400 English had been sent home or rounded up at the borders. 

UEFA chief executive Gerhard Aigner made the threat to expel England if there was any more crowd trouble after Sunday's extraordinary meeting convened by UEFA in Liege, Belgium – (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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