Sat, Dec 25, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Officials ready for fake tickets

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL A Frankfurt court barred an unauthorized German firm, which had been advertising `VIP' packages at inflated prices for the Confederations Cup in June, from selling tickets

AP , FRANKFURT, GERMANYSAWBRIDGEWORTH, WEST BROMWICH AND SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND

A soccer globe is illuminated in this June 14, file photo in Leipzig, Germany. Organizers warned yesterday that holders of fraudulant tickets would not be admitted to World Cup events. World Cup tickets will contain a microchip, which will allow entry only for fans who have acquired their tickets through legal channels.

PHOTO: AFP

The German soccer federation warned Thursday against buying World Cup tickets from unauthorized agents, saying they could be prevented from entering stadiums for the matches.

The DFB, which is especially fearful of fraud on the Internet, won a court ruling Thursday that it hopes is the first step to limiting ticket problems for the 2006 World Cup, which Germany will host.

The federation saw the ruling as a precedent for the upcoming World Cup.

"Our goal is to protect fans from being misled by dubious offers. All we can do is urgently warn fans off freeloaders, the majority operating on the Internet," said Horst Schmidt, vice-president of Germany's World Cup Organizing Committee.

"Anyone who takes up these offers runs the risk of losing a lot of money and failing to gain entry into the stadium," Schmidt added.

The tickets for both the World Cup and Confederations Cup, a biennial championship of the six regional confederations, will contain a microchip, which will allow entry only for fans who have acquired them legally.

The Germans are hoping to limit ticket fraud, which has been a ritual complaint in recent years with regard to soccer's premier event.

"The tickets sales will influence the mood at the World Cup," Schmidt said.

The Bild newspaper, Germany's largest, also reported Thursday that world soccer governing body FIFA was in talks with Internet auction house eBay to stop World Cup tickets from being sold on their Web site.

FIFA officials were unavailable for comment and an eBay spokesman Chris Donlay said that due to the upcoming Christmas holiday, he couldn't confirm any discussions had occurred.

Bild reported dubious offers already have surfaced for World Cup tickets, although they don't go on sale until Feb. 1. One England-based company was reporting offering a "VIP" package -- including hospitality -- for the final in Berlin for 4,990 euros (US$6,670).

Pop musician/singer Elton John and other celebrities attended a lavish party held by English national team captain David Beckham and his wife Victoria on Thursday for the christening of their sons.

The ceremony for Brooklyn, 5, and Romeo, 2, was held in the grounds of the family's Hertfordshire mansion, which has been dubbed Beckingham Palace.

The christenings were conducted by the Rev. William Paul Colton, a bishop in the Anglican Church of Ireland, who had married the couple five years ago.

Other guests who showed up at a chapel newly built for the occasion included actress Liz Hurley; three other members of Victoria's band, the Spice Girls -- Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, and Melanie Chisholm; and tennis player Greg Rusedski with his wife Lucy.

The guess list also reportedly included fellow England teammates Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney, actor Tom Cruise, and England national team manager Sven Goran Eriksson.

Elton John arrived for the black-tie affair with his partner David Furnish in a silver Rolls Royce. The ceremony was closed to the media, but reports said that the rock star would become the godfather of the two boys.

Earlier in the afternoon, Beckham's mother, Sandra, drove to the couple's home near Sawbridgeworth, 56km north of London, closely followed by Victoria's parents, Tony and Jackie, and then her sister, Louise.

Aerial photographs showed that Beckham and his wife had the private chapel, which has a white angel above its arched doorway, built for the occasion. To get to the chapel, guests walked past fake ruins modeled on the crumbling Irish church where the couple wed.

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