Czechs furious at ticket sales farce

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The Independent Online
The large number of empty seats at Old Trafford for yesterday's semi-final between the Czech Republic and France was, it has to be hoped, an embarrassment to the organisers of Euro 96.

The somewhat optimistic official attendance was 43,877, more than 10,000 less than capacity, but the real crowd was much, much lower, according to observers at the ground. At least tickets were on sale in Manchester on the day of the game - but not, it seems, at a price low enough to attract too many neutrals.

The Czechs were unhappy, too, about the ticket sales policy - for the quarter-final as well as the semi-final. Fans who travelled to Birmingham for the last-four game against Portugal on Sunday claimed they had been charged an inflated price of pounds 75 for match tickets sold in the Czech Republic by the official agency, Sport Tourist. Unless they bought tickets in their own country, they said, they would have faced problems with immigration officials and risked not being allowed to travel.

Frantisek Chvalovsky, the Czech football association president, said: "I'm very disappointed by this. We think the organisers are not too happy with the fact that the Czech Republic have advanced. We are, it seems, a negative attraction."