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Iran v Millwall football match 'likely to be called off'

London, July 19, IRNA-London football club Millwall said Tuesday that an official announcement would be made shortly about its long- arranged friendly match against Iran's national team following reports that the game was expected to be cancelled.

The press office for the Championship League team told IRNA that a decision was being made by the club's board of directors and would be issued later in the day. He said that he did not know the reason why the game in south-seat London on July 30 may be called off.

But a report in the Guardian newspaper said that the game was "almost certain to be cancelled today because the organizers fear the game will be targeted by far right extremists."

A link was made with the recent terrorist attacks in London, suggesting that there were fears far right extremists and football hooligans were acting jointly to attack Muslims and "avenge" the bombings.

But this was not confirmed by police, who were understood to be prepared allow the match to proceed despite the difficult climate following the bombings that led to a backlash of attacks against the country's Muslim community in which mosques have also been targeted.

Further confusion was caused by Millwall's championship rivals Queens Parks Rangers declaring that their match against Iran's national team, the first in a three-game tour, would go ahead in west London as planned this Saturday.

"It will give communities the chance to come together and display a positive side rather than a negative one," QPR chief executive Mark Devlin was quoted saying.

He said that internet chatrooms had been monitored that there "doesn't seem to be a clamour among our fans for the game to be called off." Doubts about the Millwall game were unknown to ticket agents, Ticketmaster, who were still handling telephone sales for the match on Tuesday morning when IRNA checked, although online bookings were not available.

Sources suggested that the reason for the possible cancellation may be due to the apparent few tickets sold for the game, even though it should be a huge attraction for the club, whose other pre- season friendlies are arranged against more local lower teams.

The club were said to have been expecting up to 10,000 Iranian fans attending the match, but one option being floated was that the game could go ahead behind closed doors.

The original selection of the game by Iran surprised many football supporters in England, given that Millwall is not one of the top teams and its fans have one of the worst reputations.

Last year the south-east London team became the first club to be charged by the English Football Association over racist behaviour by supporters.

The governing body last month fined Millwall Pnds 25,000 (Dlrs 45,000) after it was claimed that a Liverpool player was subjected to monkey noises and was warned that the ground could be closed to all spectators for a home match if there was a repetition.

... Payvand News - 7/19/05 ... --

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