Turkey struck hard for trouble

ZURICH (AP) – Turkey was ordered to play its next six competitive home matches at neutral venues without fans and pay a 129,000-euro fine for violence at a World Cup qualifier against Switzerland. Turkey will be under strength for those games after FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, also suspended three of its players for as long as six matches and banned assistant coach Mehmet Ozdilek from «any football-related activity» for a year. One Switzerland player and the team’s physiotherapist were also suspended. The punishment will affect at least some of Turkey’s qualifying matches for the 2008 European Championship. It has a friendly against the Czech Republic scheduled for March 1 before qualifying matches against Greece, Hungary, Malta, Norway, Moldova and Bosnia-Herzegovina, although its schedule hasn’t been settled. Turkey must play the six games at least 500 kilometers from Turkey. A five-member FIFA disciplinary committee reviewed the accounts of six participants in a brawl that followed the November 16 match in Istanbul and decided on the sanctions at a two-day session this week. Turkey won the game 4-2 but Switzerland advanced on away goals, sparking scuffles between players and coaching staff in the tunnel on the way to the locker room. «The Turkish Football Federation is ordered to pay all organizational costs with regard to these six matches,» FIFA said. It also will have to pay an additional 12,000 euros for procedural costs. Turkey will be without defender Alpay Ozalan and midfielder Emre Belozoglu for six games, with each also fined a total 10,300 euros. Midfielder Serkan Balci was suspended for two matches and fined 3,500 euros. Switzerland’s players were rushing from the field to get away from angry Turkish fans at the end of the game when Benjamin Huggel kicked Ozdilek. FIFA didn’t immediately say what Ozdilek did, but banned him from all soccer for 12 months as of yesterday and fined him 10,300 euros. Huggel was suspended for six matches and fined 9,900 euros, while physio Stephan Meyer was suspended for two matches and fined 4,200 euros. Ozalan tried to kick Huggel in retaliation, but instead made contact with a Switzerland player in front of him. Huggel then hit Ozalan on the back of the head and the two players wrestled each other to the ground, after which a number of other players joined in. «The decisions will now be sent to the relevant parties and will be followed up with a detailed, reasoned explanation within the next 30 days,» FIFA said. All punishments, other than those against Serkan Balci and Stephan Meyer, can be appealed to FIFA and then the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

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