Football: Ticket trouble hits US hosts

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The Independent Online
WORLD CUP officials in the United States are being bombarded with 'hate faxes' and angry telephone calls from football fans around the globe because of muddles over tickets, according to a report published yesterday.

Only two weeks before the start of the competition, the organisers have been swamped with so many calls that they have been compelled to install extra telephone lines to cope with the burden, said a report in the Los Angeles Times.

'It's a debacle,' one World Cup official anonymously told the newspaper. 'The public are getting tickets for games they didn't even order and not getting tickets for games they did order. We're getting hate mail from all over the world.'

The newspaper claims to have received calls at its own offices from cross and confused fans. It said that in one incident a fan paid thousands of dollars for an exclusive ticket package. However, when he received it this week, he was horrified to discover that he was seated on one side of the stadium and his wife was on the other.

Another fan claims to have spent a total of 40 hours telephoning the World Cup Hotline to complain that he had paid dollars 724 for tickets which he alleged were sold under 'false pretences' because they turned out to be located in the corners of stadiums. But the hotline was permanently engaged.

However, World Cup '94 organisers were quick to downplay the dimensions of the mix- up. Scott LeTellier, its chief operating officer, acknowledged that there had been calls, but said they were within the range expected for such a large event.

Colombia continued their World Cup warm-up programme with a convincing 2-0 victory over Northern Ireland at Foxboro, Massachusetts, on Friday. Bryan Hamilton, the Northern Ireland manager, said: 'Colombia are a wonderful side. They showed their class.'

Josip Weber, the former Croatian international, scored five goals on his debut for Belgium in last night's 9-0 thrashing of Zambia in Brussels. The Cercle Bruges players became a naturalised Belgian earlier this year.