U.S. citizens planning to attend the European Championship should be extra cautious because of possible terrorist attacks, the State Department said yesterday.
The alert covers three major events in Portugal -- the annual religious gathering in Fatima, which has just begun; the Rock in Rio concert at the end of May; and Euro 2004, which runs from June 12 to July 4.
Americans at Euro 2004 "should be aware that soccer-related hooliganism has occurred at past European soccer championships, including violent conflicts between fans and rioting or vandalism in stadium areas and city streets," the statement said. "U.S. citizens are advised to avoid areas of conflict between fans of opposing teams."
A million tickets for the tournament have been sold and up to 3 million visitors will pass through Portugal.
Portugal has sent 128 police to Iraq and was a strong supporter of the U.S.-led invasion. There have been no terror attacks in Portugal for 20 years, but officials increased security after the March train bombings in neighboring Spain.
Meantime, Cameroon plans to appeal FIFA's punishment for wearing bodysuits.
Soccer's governing body docked Cameroon six points in qualifying play for the 2006 World Cup, saying the team broke rules by wearing one-piece uniforms during this year's African Cup of Nations.
"It's a heavy blow against Africa," Cameroon Coach Winfried Schaefer told the German news agency DPA. "It has nothing to do with fair play. It means saying goodbye to the World Cup."
FIFA rejected Cameroon's appeal against its April 16 ruling in which the country's soccer federation also was fined $155,000. Schaefer said yesterday that he would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
The Indomitable Lions start qualifying play next month.
Also yesterday, organizers announced that about 3 million tickets for the World Cup -- scheduled for June 9-July 6 in Germany -- will go on sale on Feb. 1, 2005. The tickets will be available online or can be purchased with a special order form. Orders arriving earlier will not be considered and there won't be waiting lists. Prices run from about $40 to $725, depending on the round and location.
-- From News Services