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Agreement Paves Way for Smoother Ticket Sale

A row over World Cup 2006 tickets between officials and a consumer rights group worried about privacy protection has been resolved after the group won concessions from German organizers. It's good news for soccer fans.

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Fans lucky enough to get tickets will be able to transfer them to friends

The big-spending consumer, alias the soccer fan, won a small victory Thursday when the German Football Association (DFB) agreed to alter application forms for the already hot-selling tickets to the World Cup 2006 in Germany. The change means that wide-ranging personal data from applicants -- requested by organizers for security reasons -- can be exempted from commercial use at their request.

In return, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv), which was worried that the original application forms would amount to an unncessary invasion of privacy, has said it will not take the DFB to court to win such changes.

At the same time, the World Cup Organizational Committee announced that those who win tickets through the lottery would be allowed to transfer tickets to friends and relatives -- under certain conditions. In addition, a market will be set up where fans can trade tickets. Finally, individual data and rights of spectators will be better protected.

Consumer rights' groups satisfied

It took direct talks between leaders of the DFB and German consumer advocates before any agreement could be reached. DFB president Theo Zwanziger met with vzbv executive director Edda Müller in Berlin, this meeting coming after the consumer rights group had sent two letters of complaint to the DFB.

Müller said the vzbv was "very satisfied" with the agreement. Zwanziger, also vice president on the Organizational Committee, concurred: "The interests of the soccer fans as consumers must take priority."

Kartenvorverkauf für FIFA Fussball-WM 2006

Ticket winners will get not just get small strips of paper. They will come nicely packaged

That now looks to be the case. For example, in the very unusual case that a match were relocated to another stadium, the consumer could return the ticket and receive his money back, no questions asked. Secondly, the transfer of a ticket is theoretically possible. It cannot be refused except for security reasons, putting the fears of some people to rest that they would have to get a note from their doctor in order to pass on the ticket to someone else. Nevertheless, the Organizational Committee still has the final say in case of a transfer, a point that committee press speaker Jens Grittner underlined.

"Of course we are acting in the interest of the fans and spectators," but the transfer of tickets can only be an exception.

On the online application form, it will be clearly stated that fans can order their tickets without any worry that their personal data will be used for commercial purposes. One piece of information continues to be mandatory when ordering -- personal identification or passport numbers. Müller said that in the current global situation, the prevention of attacks must remain a top goal.

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Since February 1, 2005, over two million fans have applied to purchase the first batch of 812,000 tickets. These will then be awarded in a lottery in the middle of April. The 64 World Cup matches will take place in June and July 2006.

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