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England arrive in Istanbul

10/10/2003 05:08:53 AM Comments (0)

The English football team arrived in Istanbul Thursday for a potentially explosive Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey amid heavy security.

Dozens of policemen formed human chains around the players as they walked through the airport to their bus, to the pro-Turkey chants of a handful of Turkish supporters.

Only a young Turkish girl managed to break through the police cordon in a bid to take a hug from David Beckham, but security forces promptly intervened before she was able to reach her idol.

In a gesture of goodwill, Beckham asked a police officer to get the teenager back and had a brief chat with her in the bus.

Turkey has mobilised thousands of police for Saturday's match as both sides fear a repetition of violence that has often marred games between Turkish and English teams.

The English Football Association opted not to take up any tickets for the match and has urged supporters to stay home, but British police have warned that a hard core of hooligans are determined to travel to Istanbul.

Just hours before the English team landed at Ataturk airport, police stopped two Britons from entering the country and sent them back on a flight to London after determining that their names figured on a list of 1,000 troublemakers that English police had handed over to Turkish colleagues.

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