Viduka causes ASA to set up Euro HQ - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Viduka causes ASA to set up Euro HQ

By Doug Conway and Paul Mulvey 20/02/2004 11:33:20 PM Comments (0)

Australian soccer will set up a European headquarters to help prevent a repeat of this week's Mark Viduka tug-of-war which led to national team no-shows, suspensions, walk-out threats and possible legal action.

The Australian Soccer Association (ASA), which invoked one-match FIFA club bans on Viduka and Scott Chipperfield for failing to turn up for a Socceroo friendly in Venezuela, plans to establish its European office as soon as possible.

The ASA said it would appoint an executive to represent its interests, improve liaison with players and clubs, and provide a European base now that so many of Australia's "home" friendlies are played in the region.

The vast bulk of the Socceroos, whose next assignment is against South Africa at Loftus Road in London on March 30, are drawn from British and continental clubs.

Viduka's one-match suspension means he will be unavailable for Leeds United's vital fixture this weekend against Manchester United - and his relegation-threatened club is furious.

"What's happened is an absolute disgrace," Leeds chief executive Trevor Birch told the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper.

"The survival of Leeds United is in jeopardy and we have this, all for the sake of a Mickey Mouse game that took place at the other side of the world."

But Leeds' premier league rival Birmingham City admits friendly internationals are essential, even after it paid a big price from the Socceroos' Caracas trip.

Birmingham will be without Stan Lazaridis for at least two weeks after the in-form winger injured a hamstring in the match.

Birmingham manager Steve Bruce is furious at losing Lazaridis and had said the match was ludicrous before the players flew out but club chairman David Gold admitted it was not feasible to ban friendlies.

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