Flare-Throwing Casts Fresh Doubt Over Ukraine's Ability To Stage Euro 2012

DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine -- The Football Federation of Ukraine is braced for a fine from FIFA after flares were thrown into the England goalmouth, holding up play on two occasions, during Saturday's World Cup qualifier at the Dnipro Arena.

Ukraine fans light flares during the World Cup 2010 qualifying match between Ukraine and England.

The Football Association will submit a formal complaint to Fifa this week, having already made its concerns clear to the governing body's delegate at the game.

The sanction is likely to amount to little more than a fine – the Algerian FA was fined around £15,000 in the summer after similar incidents marred Algeria's game against Egypt in Bilda on 7 June – yet the incidents were distinctly ill-timed given Ukraine's problems in preparation for hosting Euro 2012.

Dnipropetrovsk is not one of the host cities earmarked for the tournament – to be jointly hosted with Poland – in three years' time but UEFA harbours concerns that Ukraine will not be ready in time to co-host the finals.

It has expressed doubts over the number of hotel rooms available in Kiev, Lviv, Donetsk and Karkhiv and at the delays in constructing an airport in Donetsk and a stadium in Lviv, with a deadline set for 30 November for the venues to prove they will be ready to host the tournament.

The sight of flares raining down on Rob Green's goalmouth in the first minute of Saturday's game, with the local authorities clearly unable to enforce security, will hardly have helped. The England goalkeeper sought refuge outside his penalty area, with stewards moving in to clear 14 burning flares from the pitch.

Andriy Shevchenko's missed penalty some 16 minutes in prompted another barrage of burning missiles, with more flares tossed on to the pitch when Ukraine scored the only goal just before the half-hour.

The referee, Damir Skomina, requested a message be relayed over the public address system warning that any repeat of the flares would prompt him to abandon the match. FA officials – who had dispatched a security guard to stand behind the England goal as added protection for Green and then David James – made their feelings known to the FIFA delegate.

"We spoke to the FIFA delegate and he is submitting a report regarding the missiles," said an FA spokesman. "We will be following this up with a formal complaint. It is not acceptable for any player to come under attack from sustained missile throwing and we will be forwarding that to FIFA in the next week."

England refused to cite the flares as having played a part in their slack defending which saw Green become the first England goalkeeper to be sent off, and then Ashley Cole deflect Sergii Nazarenko's shot into his own net to pave the way for Capello's first competitive defeat as manager.

"I don't think the game should have been abandoned for these people with the flares," said Capello. "FIFA have to decide something about this. When we came to the stadium I saw supporters being checked. Clearly they did not check enough. It's no good to keep starting the game again, for the concentration it is difficult. But the flares are no excuse."

It remains to be seen whether the FIFA delegate mentions alleged racist chanting in his match report to be submitted to the governing body. Carlton Cole suggested after the game that some of his team-mates had been aware of abuse, even if neither he nor Emile Heskey had heard it while the game had been progressing. "If it's true, it's outrageous," said Cole.

More to Capello's frustration was Skomina's performance, the Slovenian official initially sending Rio Ferdinand from the pitch following Green's trip on Artem Milevskiy, only for the fourth official – urged on by the England manager – to confirm to the referee that the goalkeeper was culpable.

Capello argued that, if Skomina had been unable to see clearly which player had clashed with Milevskiy, how then could he be so certain that the incident was worthy of a penalty and a red card?

Capello berated the referee as he departed the turf on the final whistle, continuing his protests down the tunnel with Skomina attempting to ignore him. "The big mistake is from the referee," said the Italian. "He decided the red card was for Rio. Rio was running, he was two metres behind the ball, while the goalkeeper was diving. That's a big difference. That shows the referee was not too close to the play.

"The fourth official saw what happened and confirmed my view when I spoke with him. It's one mistake, but it was too big. I spoke to the referee – he spoke Italian – at the end, but it's finished now." Skomina declined to comment.

Source: The Observer