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Football: REF WAS OUT TO DO ME IN; Brown hits out as he faces ban.

CRAIG BROWN could be hit with at least a two-match ban because he suspects the French referee in Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Croatia was out "to do" him.

Now the Scotland manager could be prevented from urging his team on to a place in the 2002 World Cup finals.

Brown believes he shouldn't have been ordered to the stand after an hour of Wednesday's courageous 1-1 draw with the Croats in Zagreb but he still expects to be punished by FIFA.

He says he wouldn't be surprised if he is banned from the dug-out area for two games after his confrontation with controversial referee Gilles Veissiere, whose methods caused an uproar during Euro 2000.

Brown's latest comments may anger FIFA, who generally stand firm alongside their match officials. Brown did admit he felt ashamed when the referee ordered him to the stand.

He said: "Archie Knox and I were shouting in the first half and the referee came over and said in English 'shut up'.

"The fourth official did the same and I felt it was a bit rude of them to say 'shut up'.

"At half time the referee went in with the fourth official and I think he said that if either of them move we'll do them. That's what I suspect.

"The fourth official positioned himself at our dug-out miles away from where Croatia's manager Miroslav Blazevic was out of his seat."

The next World Cup tie for Scotland, who lead Group Six with seven points from three games, is against second-placed Belgium at Hampden in March. Belgium have four points from two matches and a home victory would surely propel Scotland to the money-spinning finals.

Brown must now agonise over his fate following his row in the Maksimir Stadium and yesterday's comments.

He can only hope the evidence provided by Vassilios Nikakis, FIFA's Greek inspector who took in the match, proves his innocence.

Brown insisted he hadn't used foul language but he can't be sure if he overstepped the mark in some other way.

He said: "I'll need to wait to see what FIFA say but the technical area was very small and I don't know if I strayed out of it.

"The FIFA inspector in the stand watches the game but I don't know if he'll have seen what went on because the dug-out may have obscured things.

"But he'll have looked at the referee's performance, which was the cause of everything in my opinion. I suspect I'll get a two-game ban but I can't be certain."

Brown must wait until FIFA receive all the reports before deciding what action, if any, to take but perhaps they should take into consideration previous behaviour, and I don't mean Brown's.

Card-happy Veissiere was the referee when Spain appeared to have been beaten by Yugoslavia at Euro 2000.

He added on five minutes and the Spaniards scored twice to win 4-3.

The dramatic finish almost sparked a riot and if FIFA have a mind to slap bans on anyone they should put their own officials under closer scrutiny.

The SFA said last night they might appeal if Brown is punished. Spokesman Andy Mitchell said: "We will need to see what is in the referee's report before even deciding on an appeal.

"Once we are aware of the reasons for Craig's dismissal they will be put in front of the international committee.

"Nothing has been ruled out but we don't expect correspondence from FIFA until early next week."

A FIFA spokesman said: "Perhaps the referee will make a special mention of what happened with Craig Brown.

"A three-man disciplinary panel will then meet to discuss what action should be taken.

"This meeting is likely to be next week and a ban is possible. It has happened before."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Traynor, James
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 13, 2000
Words:629
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