England to play in Istanbul

England to play in Istanbul
England to play in Istanbul

England's football team will play against Turkey in the crucial Euro 2004 qualifier on Saturday.

It was feared the squad would refuse to play after the Football Association was accused of failing to defend Rio Ferdinand.

The footballers had threatened to boycott the game if the FA ignored pleas to reverse the decision to drop the Manchester United defender, after he missed a routine drugs test.

Ferdinand failed to turn up to a mandatory drug test, claiming he had forgotten as he was caught up in moving house. He took and passed a test 36 hours later.

But missing a test constitutes a technical breach of anti-doping legislation and the FA had no choice but to exclude him from the game in Istanbul.

FA chief executive Mark Palios said yesterday the full England squad would be travelling to Turkey.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson told reporters: "I'm very happy to see that everything has been sorted out. From tomorrow we will focus 200 per cent on football."

England would have been automatically disqualified from the finals in Portugal had the strike gone ahead.