Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Northern Ireland's Serbia clash to take place behind closed doors

Serbia supporters riot during the UEFA EURO 2012 Group C qualifier between Italy and Serbia at Luigi Ferraris Stadium on October 12, 2010 in Genoa, Italy
A fireman removes a flare from the pitch thrown by Serbian fans during the UEFA EURO 2012 Group C qualifier between Italy and Serbia at Luigi Ferraris Stadium on October 12, 2010 in Genoa, Italy
Serbia players gesture to fans prior to the start of a Group C, Euro 2012 qualifying soccer match between Italy and Serbia, at the Luigi Ferraris stadium in Genoa, Italy, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. The Italy-Serbia European Championship qualifier has been stopped after seven minutes of play due to Serbia fans throwing flares onto the pitch and lighting fireworks

The Irish Football Association and an influential Northern Ireland fans’ group united last night to express their outrage at UEFA’s decision to order Serbia’s clash with Northern Ireland to take place behind closed doors.

Northern Ireland and their fans have been indirectly punished by the UEFA response to Serbia’s Euro 2012 clash with Italy in Genoa on October 12 which was abandoned due to crowd trouble.

Italy received a suspended one-match stadium ban and were awarded a 3-0 win but Serbia must face Nigel Worthington’s side in an empty stadium on March 25 with a second match facing a suspended sanction — and Serbia fans are also banned from travelling to Windsor Park on September 2 next year.

Irish FA Chief-Executive Patrick Nelson said: “This is a disappointing decision for our fans and we have already made representation to UEFA regarding this decision.”

Gary McAllister from the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs said: “We will discuss the UEFA decision with the Irish FA in the coming days and we will do what we can to assist and advise Northern Ireland fans affected by the verdict.”

Meanwhile, the Irish FA has announced that they will support an independent review of the association, demanded by the Sports Minister Nelson McCausland as he seeks reassurances on effective governance at the football body.

An IFA statement read: “Last night the Board of the Irish FA agreed in principle to carry out an independent governance review of the Association. A panel of three individuals, all independent of football in Northern Ireland, will carry out the review. The Irish FA is finalising the terms of reference and will announce full details of these terms and also the members of the Review team in the coming days.”

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