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   June 22, 2002 | 1300 IST


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English fans behaviour lauded

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Adrian Warner

World soccer's governing body FIFA has praised England fans for their behaviour at the World Cup after preparations for the finals were dominated by worries about hooligans from the country.

"We always hear quickly enough and loudly enough when fans do not behave. So let's make plenty of noise this time that their behaviour has been perfect," Lennart Johansson, the chairman of FIFA's World Cup organising committee said on Saturday.

Johansson, who is also the president of European governing body UEFA, which had to deal with English hooliganism at Euro 2000, added: "They showed that real football fans know how to enjoy the game, support their team, celebrate when they win and take defeat when they lose."

Co-hosts Japan sent thousands of police to guard stadiums nationwide in a series of security measures aimed at stopping trouble. They were armed with the latest in anti-hooligan gear, including guns that fired nets over troublemakers.

The fears had been fuelled by graphic video footage of England supporters running riot in Charleroi in Belgium during the European championship in 2000 and in Marseille at the 1998 World Cup in France.

But a British law preventing convicted hooligans from travelling to international games seemed to have an effect.

There was no repeat during England's 2002 World Cup campaign, which ended with a 2-1 defeat by Brazil in Friday's quarter-final in Shizuoka, of the trouble in France four years.

"They also showed that the problems that occur at some football matches are caused not by fans but by troublemakers who are not interested in the game itself but just want to give a bad reputation to the genuine football lovers," Johansson said.

"So thank you to those fans, especially from England, who have reasserted the positive image of our game but also to those from other countries who have helped make this such a wonderful World Cup."

Hisa Miyatake, a spokesman for the Japanese organisers JAWOC, said he did not think the anti-hooligan measures had been excessive but added that a full evaluation of the organisation would be made after the World Cup final in Yokohama on June 30.

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