Belgian Kosovars want to ban YU from Euro 2000

BRUSSELS, May 30, 2000 -- (Reuters) Lawyers acting for Kosovars living in Belgium said on Monday they would ask a Belgian court to ban Yugoslavia from Euro 2000.

"(The action) will be introduced this Friday before a judge in Brussels," said Patrick Mbaya, an assistant to Luc Misson, one of two lawyers acting for the plaintiffs.

The action would ask the court to order Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel and Interior Minister Antoine Duquesne to prevent the Yugoslav team from playing in the tournament.

Yugoslavia are due to play their opening game against Slovenia in Charleroi, Belgium, on June 13.

Mbaya said the action was based on European Union sanctions imposed on Serbia during last year's Kosovo conflict and the precedent of Euro 92 when, against the backdrop of war in Bosnia, Yugoslavia were banned by UEFA and replaced by Denmark, who went on to win.

Olivier Alsteens, spokesman for the Belgian Foreign Minister, declined to comment until the complaint had been formally lodged, but said he believed Belgium had so far respected all relevant laws.

"There is no (EU) sporting embargo against Yugoslavia," Alsteens said.

He said there was a visa ban on some Serbs travelling abroad and if any were found in the Yugoslav delegation their entry into the country would be blocked. He noted, however, that most Yugoslav players are already employed by EU-based teams and had valid visas.

Ministers in Belgrade were the only ones not invited by the Belgian government to watch their teams in action, he added.

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