'Fair' World Cup ticket access urged

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The Independent Football

The Trinidad & Tobago government said yesterday that it had appealed for "fair and open" access for its football fans to World Cup tickets but it remained "concerned" that the Fifa official with a monopoly over seats in the Caribbean nation had so far not addressed its concerns.

As The Independent reported yesterday, all of Trinidad & Tobago's ticket allocation is being handled by a travel agency owned by Jack Warner, a Fifa vice-president and the president of Concacaf who is also a special advisor to the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation.

Newspaper advertisements placed by Warner's company, Simpaul Travel, have told fans that unless they buy tickets via his agency's "travel packages" (where travel is not included in the basic price), they will not be able to see their team play. It is estimated that Simpaul will make about £1,660 profit on each £2,720 package, which includes three tickets with a total face value of £200 maximum, and hotel accommodation. The scandal could also have repercussions for fans of England, who will play Trinidad & Tobago in the group phase in Nuremberg on 15 June. Each of the associations should receive a minimum of 2,950 tickets for sale to its fans.

Any spare seats from the TTFF's allocation would normally be returned to Fifa and, in all likelihood, offered to the English FA for sale to its fans. Yet Warner has also claimed that an unnamed European tour operator is supplying his agency, raising doubts about what will happen to the TTFF tickets.

Roger Boynes, the sport minister in Trinidad & Tobago, has written to Warner asking that fans get access to tickets at face value or thereabouts. A government spokesman said: "The minister is concerned but we're still hopeful that something can be done to get ordinary people fair and open access to tickets." He added that Warner has told the government that he still does not know how many tickets the TTFF will receive.

Simpaul's website continues to claim that it is not selling tickets, but callers are being offered tickets.