The insignificant seven

Euro 96 Diary
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The Independent Online
British Rail travellers can join in the spirit of Euro 96 by entering a Carlsberg competition displayed on the paper bags from the buffet car. Customers are invited to select a team of the championships from 40 listed players and the judge is Liverpool's Jamie Redknapp. Modestly Redknapp has neglected to include himself but the choice is easier than it might have been since seven of the 40 players didn't make it to the championships. So send those souvenir bags now to Peter Beardsley, Gary Pallister, Frank De Boer, Lothar Matthaus, Marc Overmars, Eric Cantona and Thomas Skuhravy.

MORE ticketing own goals: Far from being embarrassed by the acres of empty seats at several first-round venues, the organisers seem determined to put obstacles in the way of hundreds of fans who would be happy to fill the gaps. When hundreds turned up at Old Trafford to buy the remaining tickets, they were turned away unless they had cash. Credit card sales were not allowed. Mastercard, one of the principal sponsors of Euro 96, made no comment. Meanwhile, the rule that no tickets can be sold at the grounds on match days was turned into a farce at Leeds, where would-be spectators arriving at the main railway station found that tickets were being sold there - officially . . .

ENGLAND could learn some tricks off the field, as well as on, from the Germans. Last week they donated pounds 10,000 to the North-west based Destination Florida charity, which organises holidays for sick children. And their neighbourliness did not end there. At the handing over of the cheque to Alex Ferguson, a supporter of the charity, it was revealed that Ferguson's son Darren was holding his wedding reception at the Mottram Hall Hotel, in Cheshire, where the Germans are staying. The official kindly volunteered the services of the squad. "We have many players who can dance and celebrate," he said. But then they have had more cause for celebration than most teams at Euro 96.

BANNER of the week was unfurled on the Kop at Anfield on Friday night. It read: "Peterborough Italians Welcome the Azzuri". Well it was an old Roman town . . .

MEANWHILE they have gone too far at Villa Park with attempts to impose codes of behaviour. For Holland v Scotland last Tuesday, a sign in the Doug Ellis Stand demanded: "Quiet please".

WITH an estimated 18,000 Turks following their team, hotel accommodation in the Nottingham area has been at a premium. Last week all the principal hotels and guest houses were fully booked with even establishments in Derby packed. But in one hotel not 15 miles from Nottingham itself no Turks could be seen - they had given the Saracen's Head in Southwell a wide berth.

THESE nets that retain the ball and bulge pleasingly may now have become standardised, butwhat has happened to Wembley's famous curved stanchions associated with so many memorable moments? We should be told, and then insist that they return when the party is over.

IT PROBABLY wasn't a sop to Uefa on ITV's part when they failed to replay a controversial linesman's decision on Friday night after the Czech Pavel Kuka was flagged when looking level and through on goal. People may moan about the increasing influence of satellite TV, but one has to ask whether there would have been the same poor service had the game been on Sky.

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