Fri, Jun 23, 2006 - Page 22 News List

World Cup: FIFA head acquires quarter-final tickets for scammed kids

AP , LONDON

Hundreds of children who fell victim to a World Cup ticket scam should get their chance to attend the tournament after all, thanks to Britain's prime minister and soccer's top official.

Moved by an appeal from Prime Minister Tony Blair, FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Wednesday rustled up 350 tickets to a quarterfinal match that could involve England after the children were turned away last week when bogus agencies failed to come up with their tickets.

"I am very happy that we found a solution, which reflects the spirit of FIFA and the philosophy of football," Blatter said in a statement.

Though the specifics of the journey were still being arranged, British sports authorities promised the families wouldn't have to find another ?300 to ?400 (US$550 to US$740) they originally shelled out for the trip.

At Woolwich Polytechnic in an economically deprived area of south London, 40 students were affected. Teachers who last week had to break the bad news to the students in Germany found themselves explaining their happy change in fortune.

Thames Valley police, meanwhile, arrested a 40-year-old woman and a 38-year-old man in connection with the scam. Children between the ages of 11 and 16 were affected, FIFA said.

If England defeats Ecuador, the children will be able to see their home side play. They were originally scheduled to see Saturday's match between the Czech Republic and Ghana.

"That would be the icing on the cake for sure," Parker said.

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