FIFA give us a helping hand

Last updated : 25 May 2003 By Martyn Elliott

The Euro 2004 qualifying fixture in Belgrade was originally due to be played in April but was postponed because of the political and civil unrest that followed the assassination of the Serbian president.

Under the usual rules for competitive internationals Mark Hughes would have been able to order his squad to meet four days before the game, but FIFA have decreed that the game should only get friendly status and as such he can only assemble his squad 48 hours before the match.

With the opening round of Premiership fixtures on August 16 & 17 the decision means that Bellamy and Speed will be available to play before meeting up with the Wales squad.

While not wanting Wales’ hopes of qualifying for the finals in Portugal to be jeopardised by this ruling, it has to be said that the opening week of the season is a ridiculous time to stage an international match.