FA unwilling to return to Madrid

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The Spanish Football Federation insist they will choose an appropriate venue for the proposed match between the European champions and England - four years after racist chanting at the Bernabeu blighted a friendly in Madrid.

Shaun Wright-Phillips, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Jermain Defoe and Jermaine Jenas were abused by home supporters in shameful scenes which led to FIFA imposing a £45,000 fine on the Spanish federation.

The Football Association have insisted they will not agree to play Spain in Madrid this time, although a spokesman for the Spanish federation - RFEF - on Monday night stressed it would be they who make the final decision on where to put on the possible March game.

The Bernabeu is the traditional - but not fixed - home for the Spanish national team.

Spokesman Jorge Carretero said: "We are aware of their worry. The FA were clear that they wouldn't play the game in Madrid because of the racist attacks that they were subject to in 2004.

"But the fans that go to the Bernabeu are fantastic as they are in the whole of Spain.

"We're not thinking about an alternative location because at the moment there is no contract that is signed. If we reach an agreement then the game will be played where the Spanish federation thinks is best."

The RFEF would not want to put the game in danger though, so there appears little prospect of them asking the FA to think again about playing in the Spanish capital.

In a statement last night, the FA said they are "fully aware of the steps that Spanish football has taken to combat racism since England last played there".

The statement added: "But it is the FA's view that it is sensible to play at a different venue on England's first return to Spain. We will continue to talk to the Spanish FA to finalise this contract."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2008, All Rights Reserved.

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Ashley Cole
Jermaine Jenas
Jermain Defoe
Shaun Wright-Phillips
Rio Ferdinand

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