Football: World Cup traffic fears rejected

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The Independent Online
THE ORGANISERS of England's 2006 World Cup bid have dismissed fears that the transport problems which delayed Arsenal's Champions' League match will harm their campaign.

The start of the Gunners' game with the Greek side Panathinaikos at Wembley - which Arsenal won 2-1 - had to be put back by 25 minutes due to traffic problems. Baker Street station had to be closed for 15 minutes due to overcrowding on tube trains on the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines, the main route to Wembley.

That meant that just 32,000 people out of a record 73,455 crowd were in the ground more than a quarter of an hour before the scheduled kick- off. As a result the start was delayed despite the players and officials already being in the tunnel.

"We don't think the problems last night have any relevance to the bid," said Hazel Ruscoe, the technical bid manager. "Wembley is going to be rebuilt and the event is still eight years away."

Arsenal were told they are unlikely to be held responsible for the traffic chaos when the matter is discussed at the scheduled 8 October meeting of Uefa's disciplinary committee, although they may still be fined.