Football: Mellor attacks EU over `derisory' fine

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The Independent Online
DAVID MELLOR, the head of the Government's Football Task Force, yesterday slammed the European Union's "derisory" action against the organisers of last year's World Cup in France.

Mellor is angry that the pounds 650 fine - for operating a ticket sales scheme that discriminated against fans from other countries - was so tiny when the EU could legally have made it millions.

"It's derisory when you think that they had the power to fine the organisers 10 per cent of the total ticket sales," said Mellor. "That could have been as much as pounds 10 million. The fine should have reflected the anger expressed by those in football at the arrangements.

"It put public safety at risk. All the organisers were doing was cynically stoking up the black market and it is a wonder that there were no major problems with safety."

Mellor's comments follow those of the Sports Minister Tony Banks, who criticised the fine and said that it "likely to invite ridicule".

The Football Supporters' Association spokesman David Blatt also called the action "derisory" and said the fine ended up being less than some fans paid for a single ticket on the black market to watch their country play in France.

He said: "What signals does it send out when you've got tour operators making millions off the back of organised packages - what is pounds 650 when they make millions? It's got to be a joke.

"They say they've set a precedent but I dispute that. It basically says anybody can rip off the fans. The authorities have got no teeth whatsoever."

After more than two-thirds of the World Cup tickets last year were sold to the French public, England's 2006 World Cup bid organisers are hopeful of avoiding the same ticket pitfalls and controversy as the situation that arose at France 98

The director of the England 2006 World Cup campaign, Alec McGivan, said that the ticket allocations formed a very important part of the English bid which will be submitted soon.

"Ticketing is obviously an emotive issue," McGivan said. "We hope that when our ticketing proposals for the World Cup in 2006 are published in a few weeks' time they will be well received by fans at home and abroad."