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French Sports Minister Against Banning National Anthems Before Football Matches

French Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour says he does not believe banning national anthems before football matches would reduce fan violence.

Mr. Lamour said in Paris that people do not become violent because they listen to their national anthem. He said a better solution would be to keep violent soccer hooligans out of stadiums.

The French minister's comments came one day after International Football Federation President Sepp Blatter suggested banning national anthems from international matches.

Mr. Blatter told a Swiss magazine that the combination of nationalism, emotion, and passion create explosive situations. However, a FIFA spokesman said that Mr. Blatter's comments were only personal suggestions and no formal discussions on national anthems had been scheduled.

Mr. Blatter's comments came after Swiss and Turkish fans clashed last week following their World Cup qualifying match in Istanbul. Both teams complained that opposing fans jeered national anthems in the two-match playoff series. Switzerland qualified for the 2006 World Cup by winning the series on the away goals rule.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.