SPORTS

No evidence yet of match-fixing, UEFA reports

UEFA said yesterday it had not yet found any evidence of match-fixing in its ongoing investigation into a Euro 2004 qualifier between Armenia and Greece in September. European soccer’s governing body last month appointed a disciplinary inspector to look at claims made by Ruben Hayrapetyan, president of the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA). Hayrapetyan had alleged that approaches were made to Armenia to fix the game in favor of Greece. Greece, who won the September 6 game in Yerevan 1-0, have denied any wrongdoing. UEFA said in a statement yesterday: «As the situation stands at present, it is clear that there was nothing irregular about the UEFA Euro 2004 qualifier in question. «There are no indications from which it could be inferred that either the Hellenic (Greek) Football Federation or its president were involved in any irregularities. «The status of qualifying Group 6 is therefore unaffected and the winners will be decided on the field of play.» Greece’s win moved them to the top of the table and they need only to beat Northern Ireland in tomorrow’s final group game to guarantee qualification for next year’s finals. UEFA said its investigation would continue until the end of October. Northern Ireland’s squad, which arrived in Athens yesterday as a side that has failed to score in its last 12 games, took advice, indirectly, from the legendary Brazilian goal-scoring machine Pele. Responding to journalist questions on a visit to Belfast, the retired star noted: «I would advise them to take more shooting practice and not rush with their scoring opportunities.» Northern Ireland last scored in February, 2002 – a consolation goal in a 4-1 loss against Poland. (Reuters, Kathimerini)