McClaren's baptism in serious doubt

July 3, 2006

Steve McClaren's first game as England manager is under threat after FIFA suspended Greece from all international football.

McClaren was due to take charge of the team for the first time in a friendly against the European champions on August 16.

But the Greek Football Federation were hit with a suspension today in the latest part of a long-running row about government interference.

FIFA accuse the Greek sports minister of trying to run the Greek FA and have ordered changes to the statute which have still not been made.

The FA's director of communications Adrian Bevington said: 'Obviously, if Greece have been suspended by FIFA, we would want to speak to FIFA and the Greek Football Federation to clarify the situation.'

It is an early taste for McClaren of the complexities of international football as England's new era starts with a delicate problem.

The Greece game was scheduled to be McClaren's one and only warm-up match before the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign starts against Andorra on September 2.

England will have to work hard to find alternative opponents for the international date on August 16 if they are forced to scrap it as most countries who want to play that day will already have their games organised.

Others are reluctant to start the international football calendar less than six weeks after the World Cup final.