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The Part UEFA Played in Eastern European Civil
Revelatory documents pertaining to memo communication
between the UN and European football federation UEFA have today been
unearthed. The documents, publicly available thanks to new
European freedom of information legislation,
appear to imply a link between the instigation of hostilities in the former
Yugoslavia and the subsequent expulsion of the country’s national football
side from the 1992 European Championships.
The tournament was historically notable for the disqualification of
Yugoslavia and the resulting replacement by qualification runners-up
Denmark, who went on to secure an unlikely victory after a
memorable win over Germany in the final. If
genuine, the documents appear to shed light on a scandal involving figures
right at the top, including senior UN ambassadors, the Danish government and
UEFA president Lennart Johansson.
Allegations allude to an intervention by the Danish government, via the UN,
to initiate the war in order to get Yugoslavia
expelled from the competition.
Officials at both the UN and the government of Denmark have been quick to
refute the allegations, while there have been calls to instigate a
full-scale investigation into the matter. When pressed on the situation, a
spokesman for the UN called the information in the memo “wholly
unsubstantiated and a fraudulent hoax”. Preliminary reactions from UN
members expressed deep concern about the state of affairs, and prompted an
angry response from leaders in former Yugoslavian countries. A Croatian
official at UN headquarters told journalists that a heated exchange had
taken place in an emergency meeting to clarify the claims, which is alleged
to have ended with the Croatian delegate sliding in
dangerously on the Danish ambassador.
The news comes just months after the Italian football scandal that saw
players, referees, managers and chairmen, among others, punished for
improper conduct. The incident sparked major repercussions as top Italian
clubs were fined and deducted points. This latest situation would seem to
serve to highlight again the corruption that threatens to engulf football
across the continent.
At Downing Street this morning, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s press secretary
urged restraint on all sides at this stage and called for patience until the
full details could be ascertained, adding “it all sounds like
a load of bollocks to me”.