Police may strip-search fans
German police will have the right to strip-search even those World Cup fans heading to stadiums whose behavior gives them no specific grounds for suspicion, sports news agency SID reported on Tuesday. The powers follow a ruling by a regional court in the state of Saarbruecken. The court dismissed claims by a 16-year-old girl that a strip-search by police before a second-division match between Dynamo Dresden and FC Saarbruecken in March last year was inappropriate and infringed her personal rights. The girl was one of several female fans ordered into a cabin and forced to strip naked before the match, the court heard. Saarbruecken police told the court that they had searched the girl precisely because she appeared "inconspicuous," and these types of fan had previously smuggled weapons and smoke powder into the stadium hidden in their underwear. On that day, however, police found no such objects about the person of the 16-year-old girl or any of the other women they searched. The court ruled the strip-search was justified in order to make proper checks, adding the girl should have expected it.
Brazil set to be top spender
Brazilian, Italian and Mexican soccer fans look set to be the top spenders during the World Cup, according to a survey released on Tuesday. Whether they are football fanatics or casual fans, people from those countries are more likely to spend at least US$100 on products and services, the MasterCard International-sponsored survey found. Brazil, Italy and Mexico are among the top four countries that have played the most games, including qualifiers, in FIFA World Cup history. The fourth is Germany, which ranked among the top spenders in terms of avid fans but not casual ones. Brazilians, whose team are champions and favorites to repeat this year for a sixth triumph, are the biggest fair-weather spenders, with 77 percent of their avid fans and 68 percent of their casual likely to spend more if they go far.
Errant tickets spark outrage
A mail package containing more than 500 World Cup tickets for the first three matches involving France went missing for days, and the French federation is demanding answers. The package of 552 tickets was sent from the French Football Federation in Strasbourg via DHL shipping to the regional league in Alsace. It was missing and untraceable for days before it was delivered on Tuesday. "The [French Football Federation] is waiting for precise explanations from DHL on the conditions in which this package disappeared for several days, despite the rigorous tracking procedures used by the company,'' the federation said in a statement.
Czechs do it for dumplings
Czech Republic players will celebrate every World Cup victory with a hearty portion of dumplings, their favorite national dish. The hotel where they will be based in the group stages has hired a Czech chef to ensure the squad can tuck into authentic knedliky. "They will be having dumplings after every victory," said hotel spokeswoman Claudia Keck on Tuesday. The players, based in Westerburg, southeast of Cologne, will be able to wash down their dumplings with specially ordered Czech beer. The Czechs were scheduled to arrive in Germany yesterday.
Frei seeking redemption
After leaving his last major tournament in disgrace, Switzerland's top goalscorer Alex Frei is looking to complete an unlikely journey from national villain to world champion. Sent home from Euro 2004 after television pictures showed him spitting on England's Steven Gerrard, the striker has won his way back into Swiss hearts with his 25 goals in 45 appearances. But Frei, 26, knows his old ways could come under renewed scrutiny from the media once Switzerland arrive in Germany today. "My plan is not to answer any questions [about Euro 2004]," the Stade Rennes player said at the team's Swiss training camp.