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Wed 23 Apr 2008 07:45 AM

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Spain's Euro 2008 hopes increase

The chances of Spain being expelled from Euro 2008 has decreased after country council backs down.

The chances of Spain being expelled from the Euro 2008 championships decreased on Tuesday when it was reported the government-run Spanish Sports Council had backed down on controversial plans to force the Spanish football federation to hold elections before Euro 2008.

In December 2007 the government ordered all sporting federations not involved in the Olympics to hold elections before the Games begin in Beijing in August.

However, the football federation said such a plan would be impractical this year because of the timing of the Euro 2008 finals.

Spanish media reports said that the government had agreed to make an exception for the football federation and it could now hold its elections at the end of the year.

The disagreement over the timing of the elections between FIFA, who backed the Spanish football federation, and the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had raised the prospect that Spain could have been banned from Euro 2008.

In February, FIFA president Sepp Blatter warned that government interference in the administration of football in Spain could lead the country's national teams and clubs to be barred from international competitions like Euro 2008.

Greece only just escaped a ban from international competition before the 2002 World Cup after FIFA expressed displeasure at government interference in footballing administrative issues.

The federation decided at the assembly in March to hold elections before November 26 but after Euro 2008 which will be co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland from June 7-29, in defiance of the government.

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