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Violence Mars World Cup Qualifying

DW staff (dre)November 17, 2005

Swiss, Czech and Spanish soccer fans are in ecstasy after their soccer teams became the last European teams to qualify for the World Cup Wednesday. But the Swiss triumph in Turkey was marred by fan violence.

Swiss players rushed into the locker room as objects rained downImage: AP

Soccer's governing body FIFA has threatened sanctions after Swiss players were showered with objects from the stands of Sukru Saracoglu Stadium and Swiss and Turkish players clashed following their aggregate victory over Turkey.

The trouble started immediately after the final whistle. Swiss players sprinted for the locker rooms as objects thrown by irate Turkish fans rained down.

Swiss defender Benjamin Hubbel kicked a Turkish coach as he went off the field, and then jumped on Turkey's Ozalan Alpay after the player allegedly kicked striker Marco Streller. Swiss defender Stephane Grichting was hospitalized with internal bleeding after being kicked, said Swiss coach Koebi Kuhn.

"We could not yet show our tremendous joy but it will be a great feeling very soon," he said. "It was one of those matches which really makes you nervous."

Turkey's 4-2 in Istanbul was not enough to put them through because Switzerland had one the first leg 2-0, putting them through on aggregate points.

Intense play on the field as well

Swiss players knew the atmosphere would be tense and any last reservations must have been cleared away after Turkish fans hung a banner up that read "Welcome to Hell."

The match was a thrilling, intense affair which saw its first goal in the first minute. A handball penalty kick against Turkey was calmly slotted into the Turkish goal by Swiss striker Alexander Frei.

Fußball Schweiz Türkei
Turkish soccer fans made sure the Swiss knew what they were getting intoImage: AP

The Turks responded with an offensive barrage, consistently putting the Swiss under pressure and eventually tying the game with a header from Tuncay Sanli in the 24th minute. They added goals two and three just before and after the half, setting the stage for a thrilling finale.

But instead of Turkey getting the goal to put them up 4-1 and on track for Germany, it was Switzerland's Marco Streller on a counter-attack that brought the Swiss within one in the 84th minute. A goal by Sanli, his third of the night in the 89th minute was not enough and Switzerland survived the final four minutes of stoppage time to hold on for the win.

Spanish and Czechs round out Europeans

While perhaps not as thrilling -- or precarious -- Spanish and Czech fans had reasons to delight as well after their teams did what was necessary to advance. Spain had whipped Slovakia 5-1 in the first leg on Saturday and was able to cruise to Germany with a 1-1 tie in Bratislava on Wednesday night.

Qualifikationsspiel Schweiz - Türkei
Though Frei (center, back) passed up two other golden chances, his 1st minute penalty helped push his country throughImage: AP

Thomas Rosiscky's first half goal was enough for the Czech Republic, which won 1-0 against Norway. The Czechs won 2-0 on aggregate after a first leg win in Oslo and became the 32nd, and final team to qualify.

The European teams by far did not provide all of the drama. Australia qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 32 years and tiny Trinidad & Tobago qualified for their first World Cup ever earlier on Wednesday.

Some firsts

Trinidad and Tobago feiert
Trinidad and Tobago's Ian Cox, left, and Russell Latapy, center, and Chris Birchall celebrate their country's first ever World Cup appearanceImage: AP

The "Socceroos" overcame a 0-1 first leg against Uruguay to win 4-2 on penalty kicks. Goalie David Schwarz is assured of a place in Australian soccer history after parrying two of the Uruguayan penalty kicks.

Trinidad & Tobago -- with a population of 1.1 million -- will be the smallest nation in the World Cup after beating Bahrain 1-0, and going through on a 2-1 aggregate score after tying in the first leg.

"I'm so proud of the players and for the people of the whole country," said Tobago coach Leo Beenhakker, a former coach at Real Madrid, who transformed a team of soccer journeyman into World Cup qualifiers.

Who Trinidad & Tobago -- and the rest of the qualifying nations -- will play in next June's World Cup will be revealed at the tournament seeding on Dec. 9 in Leipzig. More than 3,700 sports functionaries, 1,200 journalists will be on hand. More than 300 million television viewers are expected to watch the drawing.