Fri, Jul 16, 2004 - Page 23 News List

Famous soccer ball now worth millions after online bidding

AP , MADRID, SPAIN

David Beckham's fluffed penalty kick in the shootout against Portugal cost England a place in the European Championship semifinals.

The ball Beckham kicked into the seats is going to cost someone millions.

The notorious Adidas "Roteiro" ball has attracted bids of up to US$12.4 million on an Internet auction site and promises to make a multimillionaire of the Spaniard who claimed it as it sailed through the air.

Pablo Carral, who was sitting high in Lisbon's Luz stadium, was soon made aware that he had not just acquired a souvenir when he received an offer of US$22,271 from a British newspaper.

Carral, 25, then decided to test the water by offering the ball for sale on the Spanish site of Internet auctioneers eBay (www.es.ebay.com).

Starting at US$1.24, bids for the Thailand-manufactured ball, which bears the date and venue of the game, have soared as high as Beckham's misjudged shot that led to England's elimination from the tournament.

Having received close to 150 bids for the ball, eBay Spain said Wednesday that some were hoaxes and it was making every effort to separate these from genuine ones.

"Nothing like this has ever happened before in Spain," spokeswoman Inma Solis told news agency Europa Press.

"We're checking all of the bids every minute with departments from other countries and we're canceling the bids which are false."

Carral must wait until July 22 when the auction closes to claim his expected windfall. eBay's conditions state that bids can only be withdrawn in exceptional circumstances.

"The incredible thing was that the ball reached our row because we were sitting a long way from the goal," Carral was quoted by sports daily As.

"To leave the stadium, I was guarded by two friends whilst I hid it in my clothes."

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