The Highlight Reel: So, whose private jets stopped fans from seeing the match? - News & Comment - Football - The Independent

The Highlight Reel: So, whose private jets stopped fans from seeing the match?

Hands up if it was you Hilton, and your new-found interest in soccer? Or you Mr Kissinger, in another diplomatic triumph? Or perhaps, Queen Sofia of Spain, it was you who was the cause of the most improbable traffic jam at this or any World Cup?

After all the pre-tournament fears of crime and poor turn-outs at matches, it is the sight of too many private jets on the runaway at Durban's King Shaka International airport that may yet prove the organisers' biggest embarrassment.

Hundreds of German and Spanish supporters failed to make it to Wednesday's semi-final after their planes were unable to land at the airport built specifically for the tournament. Congestion on the runway due to the number of private planes transporting VIPs – among them, in no particular order, Paris Hilton, the Queen of Spain, Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa, and Henry Kissinger – was blamed by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). The private jets were supposed to drop their passengers and then fly on to the city's old airport 40 miles away. But they refused to move and five flight-loads of supporters had to detour to Johannesburg, and miss the match, because of "insufficient parking", as an airport spokesperson put it.

ACSA have now promised to get tough with what Roy Keane, the former Manchester United and Ireland captain, would no doubt regard as the international branch of the prawn-sandwich brigade if there is any threat of a repeat ahead of Sunday's final in Johannesburg.

Themba Maseko, operations manager of ACSA, said: "We are going to be more forceful. If aircraft refuse to move we will tow them away." At least 14 heads of state are expected at the final.

One passenger on a flight from Cape Town said that "there was almost a riot" when it was announced that they were to be diverted to Johannesburg. Jay Moodley, a South African, said: "There was almost a riot on the plane and about 10 foreigners rushed towards the cockpit. The captain told them they would be arrested if they did not sit down. Things were very tense."

Yesterday Fifa and the tournament organisers sought to distance themselves from the plane jam, and also firmly ruled out paying compensation to those fans who were forced to miss the game. The Moses Mabhida Stadium was 1,800 short of capacity for the most eagerly awaited game of the World Cup so far. Jerome Valcke, Fifa's general secretary, said: "It's not our responsibility. Some Fifa executive committee members and partners also missed the match but it has nothing to do with Fifa."

Paris Hilton, meanwhile, got away from it all yesterday by going on safari. "Giraffes are hot," she tweeted, before claiming to have seen a tiger. For some, it really is a different world (cup).

Rein in the crazy names

Cristiano Ronaldo's imaginative decision to name his son after himself offers us a chance to revisit that other great vanity vehicle: Emlyn Hughes, aka Crazy Horse. He named his son Emlyn. And his daughter, less predictably, Emma Lynne. Which is nearly as vain as boxer George Foreman naming each of his five sons.... 'George'. Nearly.

Spaid against Dolland

The curse of ITV is getting out of hand. After illness deprived viewers of Jim Beglin’s analysis for the Holland-Uruguay semi-final, anchor man CliveTyldesley has picked up a cold. “Get ready for Spaid agaidst Dolland on Sunday night,” he tweeted yesterday, rather waggishly.

What next? Andy Townsend with a nasty graze?

Dutch homeless find shelter

A home, thank goodness, has been found for the Dutch team. You'll recall that so low were the expectations of the Dutch FA they only booked accommodation in the Sandton Hotel until 5 July, before they were ejected. But rooms were found at the Sunnyside Park hotel, so there's no danger of them slumming it for the final.

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