England tickets not selling
Tickets for England’s matches at Euro 2012 are plummeting in price, with many fans seemingly unwilling to make the long journey to Ukraine, ticket marketplace Seatwave said on Thursday. England are usually one of the best supported nations at major soccer tournaments, but a recent change of coach and a series of injuries are likely to have dampened enthusiasm. Prices for Monday’s Group D opener against France have now dropped to under 40 euros (US$50.25) each. Tickets for the group matches against Sweden and Ukraine are even cheaper, Seatwave said. It is not just England affected. Tickets for the big Group B clash between rivals the Netherlands and Germany are on sale for just 19 euros, despite a face value price starting at 30 euros. Prices for Spain’s matches are holding up much better.
Players recover from bug
Ukraine’s players have recovered from a mysterious stomach bug and they hope to surprise Sweden when the pair meet in their Euro 2012 opener on Monday, coach Oleg Blokhin said. “Twenty-three players are ready for the game against Sweden,” Blokhin told reporters. The illness swept through the squad this week and almost led to the cancellation of last Tuesday’s friendly against Turkey, which Ukraine lost 2-0. Blokhin, who previously said he suspected “sabotage,” refused to discuss the issue on Thursday. “More than two days have passed, the lads feel fine,” he said. “The topic is closed.” Blokhin said the co-hosts, who performed poorly in the Turkey friendly, would vastly improve in their first Group D game. “You will see a different team, I am sure,” he said.
Russian fans plan to march
Warsaw has no plans to reject any request by Russian fans to march through the city when their team play Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland on Tuesday, despite concerns that it could lead to violence because of tension between the two neighbors. “Of course, we will accept the registration when it appears, just as we would with the Greeks, Germans, Spaniards or Dutch,” Warsaw Mayor Hanna-Gronkiewicz Waltz said, adding that the city has not yet received such a request. A spokesman for a Russian fan organization told a Polish television station it would apply to register a march through the Polish capital to the National Stadium, where Russia face their Group A rivals. June 12 is a national holiday in Russia. The relationship between the two countries, already strained by their common history, energy and security disputes, has been further soured by charges from Poland’s rightist politicians that Russia was at least indirectly responsible for a plane crash that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski two years ago.
OCEANIA NATIONS CUP
Minnows stun All Whites
New Caledonia pulled off a massive upset when they beat regional heavyweight New Zealand 2-0 in the semi-finals of the Oceania Nations Cup yesterday, earning a place opposite Tahiti in tomorrow’s final. Goals to Bertrand Kai and Georges Gope-Fenepej clinched New Caledonia’s win over New Zealand, who represented the Oceania region at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Tahiti earlier beat hosts the Solomon Islands 1-0, defending a 15th-minute goal by Jonathan Tehau. The winner of the eight-nation tournament is set to represent Oceania at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. The semi-finalists progress to the next stage of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.