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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 31) – Australia’s World Cup playoff in the Solomon Islands later this year could be shifted to a neutral venue after yesterday’s Oceania youth final in Honiara was marred by crowd violence.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Young Socceroos led the host nation 3-nil before New Zealand referee, Peter O’Leary, called off the game in the 77th minute following repeated crowd trouble at Lawson Tama Stadium.

The match had only just been restarted after earlier incidents, including rocks, bricks and other missiles being thrown and fans pouring onto the pitch.

Local officials estimated the crowd at 22,000 but the problems were initially created by several thousand fans that had failed to gain entry and began throwing objects from outside the ground.

The Oceania Football Confederation later ruled the result would stand, but the OFC is likely to impose sanctions on the Solomons when its executive meets in Auckland next week.

Among the sanctions that may be considered is shifting the World Cup play-off between the Solomons and Australia - scheduled for September 3 - away from Honiara.

Australia will represent Oceania in the world championships, to be played in the Netherlands midway through the year.

February 1, 2005

Radio New Zealand International:

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