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Sanctions on Turkey reduced

FIFA has reduced the sanctions it imposed on the Turkish soccer association for trouble at a qualifying match, world soccer’s ruling body said over the weekend. Turkey will now play only its next three competitive home matches at neutral venues without fans, rather than the six originally imposed in February. As a result, Turkish fans will be able to attend their national team’s home Euro 2008 qualifier against archrival and defending champion Greece on October 17 next year, Turkey’s fifth of six home qualifiers. Turkey will also get home fan support for its match against Hungary on September 12 next year, as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina on November 21, also in 2007. Turkey’s original punishment would be restored, FIFA warned, if «further incidents occur during these three [closed-door] matches or during any of the three subsequent matches that are not subject to restrictions.» Meeting in Berlin, FIFA’s appeal committee said it had received apologies from the association and from Turkish midfielder Emre Belozoglu and Swiss midfielder Benjamin Huggel for wrestling each other to the ground at last November’s game in Istanbul. Turkey won that match 4-2, but Switzerland advanced to the finals in Germany on away goals, sparking scuffles between players and coaching staff in the tunnel. (AP/Kathimerini)