Football: Fifa asks France for tickets

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The Independent Online
SEPP BLATTER, the general secretary of the game's world governing body, Fifa, announced yesterday that he was hoping extra tickets - although he did not say how many - would be available to fans outside France for the World Cup finals.

"We have asked France for the remaining tickets that were reserved for the retail market in France to be returned to Fifa," he said. "That will allow the federations of the countries in the finals to get more tickets."

The European Union had warned the French organising committee (CFO) that it was monopolising most of the tickets, but the CFO said it was following guidelines agreed by the EU some two years ago.

A CFO spokesman said yesterday a meeting between the French organisers and EU officials was scheduled for Thursday in Brussels, but would not elaborate on the agenda.

Last week, English and Scottish officials complained about the ticket situation, and they were joined by the Netherlands and Germany, but hopes then of a change in policy appeared slim.

Blatter played down reports that the EU competition commissioner, Karel van Miert, was threatening fines because of the unfair allocation of tickets. "This remark is not to be taken seriously. The distribution of the tickets has been blessed by the EU. Of course, it is wonderful that football is so popular."

The Scottish Football Association yesterday agreed to offer Craig Brown a new four-year contract as the national team manager. His current deal expires after the World Cup.

The SFA will now hold talks with Brown to finalise the details of a contract he is expected to sign before World Cup preparations begin later this month with a friendly against Denmark.

Brian Little, who resigned as manager of Aston Villa last week, will be offered a quick return to management by the millionaire trying to buy Burnley.

He is the target for New York-based financier Ray Ingleby, who has bid pounds 5m for a controlling interest in the club. The board has turned down his offer, but Ingleby has now asked individual shareholders to deal with him directly.