By Martin Breheny
DUBLIN — Tony Cascarino and the FAI have been left stunned by the decision to hand the veteran international a four-match ban, arising from incidents at the end of the Ireland-Turkey Euro 2000 qualifying game in Bursa last month.
Cascarino was attacked by Turkish players and fans in an ugly fracas after the game. He reacted in self-defense but has now been banned for four games while the FAI have been fined £5,000 by FIFA. Cascarino announced his retirement from international soccer after the game, so the suspension is irrelevant in a playing sense, but the 37-year-old center-forward is anxious to clear his name.
"In almost 15 years playing for Ireland, I was never sent off, so to get a four-match ban for what happened in Turkey is both incredible and unfair," he said. "The fine on the FAI is also unfair. What really annoys me is that the Turkish player who caused most of the trouble got off scot free. The FAI are planning to appeal the £5,000 fine will also fight to have Cascarino’s ban lifted.
Meanwhile, David O’Leary, another former Irish international, continues to make impressive strides up the managerial ratings list. He has guided his young Leeds United side into top spot in the English Premiership as the season approaches the halfway point.
Leeds have 41 points from 18 games, two ahead of Manchester United, who have a game in hand. Leeds beat highly rated, but underachieving, Chelsea 2-0 on Saturday with young Dubliner Stephen McPhail netting both goals.
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Roy Keane and Denis Irwin will not be available to play for Ireland in next summer’s U.S. Cup. The Manchester United pair have indicated that they will need a rest after a long season. Manager Mick McCarthy, is unlikely to be too worried about their decision as he plans to use the U.S. Cup as an experimenting ground and will try out some fringe players.