Football: Fifa to act over ticket fiasco

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THE CHAOS surrounding the distribution of World Cup tickets worsened yesterday as Fifa announced investigations into two new cases of allegedly fraudulent sales, one of which involves an employee of its own marketing arm who "apparently sold tickets he did not have."

The other investigation, into the activities of an unnamed South American football federation, comes just a few days after the president of the Cameroon football association was placed under investigation for allegedly selling tickets destined for Cameroon fans on to the black market in Europe. Fifa's acting general secretary, Michel Zen-Ruffinen, said: "We believe that in South America there is certainly one association which has acted in this way and the inquiry will show us."

In addition to these investigations, tens of thousands of new cases of 'phantom' tickets were reported around Europe as fans who had paid for tickets discovered that they did not exist. A German newspaper reported that around 25,000 German fans had been affected, and a spokesman for the German football federation said it was an "absolute disaster".

It also emerged that fans from Belgium and the Netherlands have also been victims of ticket scams. The news comes after cases involving fans from Scotland, Brazil and Japan in recent days. On Wednesday, it was announced in Japan that over 12,000 fans intending to travel to France for their side's game tomorrow against Argentina will be unable to attend the match, despite having paid to do so.

The CFO's ticketing manager, Isabelle Delaye, maintained that the problems stemmed entirely from dishonest and non-official tour operators. "We should criticise them. They found the ideal way of making money, by deceiving people," she said.

Meanwhile, French police have arrested Russell John O'Connell, a Briton working for a Swedish company, after he was allegedly found with 125 tickets for the Morocco v Norway game. He is said to have been selling tickets outside the ground. Police are investigating if O'Connell has links with others suspected of large scale touting.