Saturday, November 26, 2005

EU Probes World Cup Ticket Fees

They are not just the hottest tickets in town; they are probably the hottest in the world. The World Cup is just seven months away and fans from around the globe -- certainly more than the 2.93 million tickets available -- are anxiously waiting to see whether they will receive one of the desired tickets.

The world soccer body FIFA has hardly won friends amongst soccer supporters with its ticket sales practices since a lottery process for tickets started in February 2005.

For the latest drawing, which has been underway since Nov. 2, FIFA has been asking for a non-refundable fee of five euros ($6) -- just to get on the waiting list. The practice of charging for a service -- namely the sale of a ticket -- that cannot even be guaranteed didn't go unnoticed by European parliamentarians, including German Liberal Democrat Otto Graf Lambsdorff. He and his Dutch peer Toine Manders complained, and now the European Commission has decided to look into the matter.

"The issue has been brought to our attention," Commission competition spokesman Jonathan Todd told reporters. "We don't yet have any conclusions. We are actively pursuing the matter."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Blatter and Turkey Federation President to Meet

The violent incidents in the match between Turkey and Switzerland have caused huge consequences. The president of Turkey's soccer federation will meet with FIFA president Sepp Blatter to discuss the brawl that followed this week's World Cup playoff against Switzerland. Levent Bicakci said Friday he would travel to Switzerland ''in the coming days'' for talks with Blatter and Ralf Zloclower, head of the Swiss federation. UEFA vice-president Senes Erzik, who is a Turk, would also attend the meeting.

''I have written (to Blatter) to convey the federation's position, our sensitivities toward Mr. Blatter's statements and our public's reaction,'' Bicakci said. ''We will be holding a meeting.''

Turkish soccer officials accused Blatter, who is Swiss of bias after he said Turkey could be banned from the 2010 World Cup.

One Turkish newspaper said Friday the brawl apparently began after a Turkish team trainer tried to trip a Swiss player running off the field.

Under the headline ''We couldn't hide it,'' the daily Vatan newspaper published photos on Friday showing Mehmet Ozdilek attempting to trip Switzerland midfielder Valon Behrami after the final whistle of Wednesday night's game in Istanbul.

Photos from two different angles showed Ozdilek sticking his leg out as he tried to connect with the 20-year-old player. Behrami jumped over the attempted trip and continued to run to the tunnel, where a brawl ensued.

Switzerland lost the match 4-2 but advanced to next year's World Cup on away goals after the two-leg playoff was tied at 4-4.

Other Turkish newspapers also ran photos of Ozdilek's attempted trip.

''It was our (players) who started it: Ozdilek kicked first,'' the Yeni Safak newspaper said.

Ozdilek's action was apparently the provocation leading Switzerland's Benjamin Huggel to give a running kick from behind to Ozdilek.