English fans will be able to drink all day

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The Independent Online
FOOTBALL FANS will be able to drink all day before England's crucial World Cup match tomorrow following a decision by the French authorities not to instigate an alcohol ban ahead of the clash with Argentina.

The only measure being taken to curb drinking in St Etienne is to close all bars at 11pm this evening. They will be able to reopen at 8.30am on Tuesday and to continue serving until 11pm - after the match is finished - when another overnight ban will be imposed.

It means that fans will be able to drink for 12 hours before the match - and those without tickets will be able to carry on as they watch the game in bars and cafes.

Fears of violence were heightened by England's minuscule ticket allocation, which left tens of thousands of fans without tickets.

MPs last night attacked the decision warning that intense pressure for tickets, combined with freely available alcohol, was a "cocktail for disaster".

Labour MP Tom Pendry, a former shadow sports minister and chairman of the Football Trust, said: "The ridiculous allocation of tickets has already caused a lot of aggravation. We are going to have 30,000 fans trying to get into about 2,000 places. There will be a high level of frustration which will mean people looking for drink to find some other outlet for their energies. This is a cocktail for disaster."

Sir Teddy Taylor, MP for Southend East and Rochford, added: "I am outraged by this joke ban. They are asking for trouble."

The measures are in contrast with the strict clampdown on alcohol at England's last game against Colombia in Lens. Some locals described Lens as a "dead town" on the night but police officials said the alcohol ban imposed there before kick-off helped to prevent hooliganism.

Earlier, the Prefect of the Loire, Jean-Yves Audouin, explained the decision not ban alcohol sales completely. "The main idea is to discourage troublemakers, who will be dealt with. But we want to keep the festivities going," he said. He added, however, that a ban on alcohol sales was still an option if the behaviour of fans warranted it.

Ticket plea fails, page 5

World Cup, pages 28-32

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