Monday October 24, 2005
FIFA to send security official to Australia-Uruguay play-off
SYDNEY: Football’s governing body FIFA said they will send a security official to next month’s World Cup play-off game in Uruguay amid Australian concerns over player safety, reports said here yesterday.
Australia have bitter memories of their corresponding play-off match in Montevideo in 2001 with reports of Socceroos players being spat at, punched and kicked by Uruguay fans on arrival at the airport.
Travelling media at the time said some home fans made slitting motions across their throats at players, with security stepped up and the players virtually imprisoned in their hotel in the days before an eventual 3-0 loss and elimination from the last World Cup Finals.
A FIFA spokesman told Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper said the world body would be sending a security official to Montevideo for the Nov 12 first-leg match.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive John O’Neill has called on FIFA to ensure the intimidating tactics used when Australia last played in Uruguay, currently world ranked 17th, are not repeated.
“There was an orchestrated campaign by some pretty unsavoury parts of the Montevideo football establishment that went into a systematic objective of undermining the Socceroos. We allowed their tactics to get to us,” O’Neill said last week.
“It happens in sport where in some cultures the opposition team is regarded as fair game,” he said. “It’s not on, this is a FIFA match.”
The FIFA spokesman told the Sun-Herald the concerns were 'justified’ and he assured FFA that everything was being done to ensure player safety in Montevideo.
FIFA have arranged for the Australian team to be based in Buenos Aires from Nov 5 and travel to Montevideo the day prior to the match on Nov 11 to circumvent any problems of four years ago.
Australia stage the return game in Sydney on Nov 16. – AFP