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Friday, January 6, 2006
Tickets biggest worry at start of World Cup year

Kevin Fylan

FRANKFURT, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Ticketing remains the biggest worry for organisers at the start of World Cup year, with orders running at 100,000 a day and little prospect of returns to ease the shortage.

'The problem with tickets will be with us right up until the referee blows the whistle for the start of the final,' organising committee president Franz Beckenbauer said at a New Year reception on Friday.

'I thought, for example, that Angola, after a long civil war, and with the huge costs involved, might give back some tickets, but nothing. Everyone wants more tickets.'

Only around 250,000 tickets are up for grabs in the last major sales window, which closes on January 15.

Those tickets will be massively oversubscribed and the vast majority of would-be fans will be disappointed when a draw on January 31 decides who gets them.

Organisers agreed to back down last month and refund a service charge for people who do not receive tickets from a separate sales opportunity for returns.

That followed a legal challenge from Germany's consumer association and Beckenbauer said organisers could not afford any more such problems.

'I hope we can work in peace over the last few months,' he said. 'We don't want another spanner in the works.'

After selling the tickets, organisers then face the huge task of printing them all with the names of holders.

That will be complicated by the forthcoming opportunity for fans to exchange tickets legally via an official website.

Organisers insist that only the person named on each ticket will be allowed access to the stadiums. They have warned that spot checks on identity will be carried out as fans make their way in for the matches.

The tournament, featuring 32 teams and 64 matches, begins on June 9 in Munich and ends with the final in Berlin on July 9.

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