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Safety Concerns Force Postponement of FIFA World Youth Championships - 2003-03-06

World football (soccer) governing body FIFA has postponed the World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates Thursday because of safety concerns over the threat of war in the Middle East. The 24-team tournament for players under age 20 was scheduled to start on March 25, but will now take place at a later date.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said in a statement, "FIFA regrets having to make this decision but must take into account its responsibilities towards the players, officials and other parties as well as towards the media and spectators."

Teams due to take part in the tournament in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah included the United States, England, Australia and Spain. The tournament is unlikely to be moved from the UAE.

On Wednesday, in Under-20 action of the Madeira International Tournament in Portugal, the United States defeated Norway, 2-0, and Portugal downed Madeira Select, 1-0. This tournament is considered a warm-up event for the now postponed World Youth Championships.