29/05/2003

Captain Becks calls for calm from England supporters

England captain David Beckham is expected to make a televised appeal to fans to behave when they attend future internationals.

Ahead of next Tuesday's friendly against Serbia and Montenegro, Beckham will ask England supporters to avoid a repeat of the scenes that took place before last month's Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey at the Stadium of Light which was marred by a number of pitch invasions.

After Tuesday's friendly, England will host Slovakia at Middlesbrough's Riverside ground in another European Championships qualifier and the England skipper is "concerned" about the consequences should there be more trouble.

Beckham believes that the comeback on more violence would be England's exclusion from Euro 2004.

"We have to be careful about our celebrations. I don't believe the players were responsible but we have to cut it down," he said.

"We have to celebrate in the middle of the pitch instead of by the corner flag. We want to stay in the competition."

The FA's Head of Media Relations spokesman Adrian Bevington said: "David regards this as hugely important and his message is directed at England fans everywhere. He knows the gravity of this situation.

"We, as a country, have had a very serious warning about our future conduct and no self-respecting fan wants the team playing behind closed doors or even being thrown out of a tournament."

The English Football Association was handed a record fine on May 11 by UEFA and issued with a final warning on the future conduct of fans, following the Turkey game.

UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Body found the FA guilty of the disciplinary charges and fined them euro 99,000 - the highest ever fine for a racism-related charge. The decision was in response to pitch incursions and racist chanting at the UEFA EURO 2004 between England and Turkey played on 2 April in Sunderland.

UEFA expressed its "grave concern" at the potential risk that occurred to match participants - both players and officials - and "totally condemned" the offensive and racist verbal abuse of opposing fans.

(GMcG)

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