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Sports

World Cup Ticket Lessons Go Unheeded at Euro 2008

Massive numbers of Germany fans have been clamoring for Euro 2008 tickets since the lottery process started in earnest. Unfortunately, just like at the 2006 World Cup, demand will outstrip supply by far.

A United States soccer team fan, in need of tickets, holds a sign in the center of Kaiserslautern, Germany

Will World Cup history repeat itself at Euro 2008 with fans looking for black market tickets?

The Swiss and Austrian organizers of Euro 2008 may be taking a page out of Germany's book when it comes to trying to emulate the success of the World Cup two years ago, but it seems that the German Soccer Federation (DFB) itself has forgotten one of its main mistakes from 2006.

While the World Cup in Germany has been lauded as one of the most successfully organized global soccer events in modern history, one of the few aspects to cause chaos and consternation was the allocation of tickets.

The complicated online lottery process, the exorbitant prices, the credit card monopolies and the minute numbers of tickets actually available to the everyday fan were just some of the complaints that dogged the almost-perfect tournament. Two years on, the DFB looks to have forgotten the stress and strain German fans went through to see their team play international soccer.

A staggering 1.5 million tickets were requested by Germany fans for the 14,400 available for their country's three Euro 2008 pool games in Austria, the DFB said on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Applications, whcih the DFB called "overwhelming," closed at midnight on Tuesday, leaving fans of Joachim Loew's boys were again facing heartbreak.

German fans destined for ticket disappointment

DFB Secretary-General Wolfgang Niersbach with Goleo

Niersbach had to try and rob Goleo to get a World Cup ticket

"It seems to be German fans' mission impossible to get tickets for Euro 2008," DFB Secretary-General Wolfgang Niersbuch said. "Unfortunately, there will be only a few joyful winners and it is a pity we have so few tickets to give away in a drawing which will take place at the end of the month."

The DFB, he admitted, was only handing over 14,400 of the 21,765 tickets it has to fans.

"We also have to give tickets to our committees, the Bundesliga clubs, the regional organizations, our sponsors and the players' families get an allocation too," Niersbuch said.

After the success of the 2006 World Cup, the demand for Germany's first round matches against Poland (June 8) and Croatia (June 12) in the southern Austrian city of Klagenfurt, plus the clash with hosts Austria in Vienna (June 16), has gone through the roof.

But the DFB cannot be held fully responsible for the imminent distress. Some of the venues for the European Championships are less than equipped for dealing with fans' demands than the ticket allocation process itself.

For example, Germany's potential group deciding clash against Croatia in Klagenfurt takes place in the 32,000-capacity Hypo Group Arena, a stadium much smaller than many Bundesliga venues.

Black market preparing for Euro 2008

Dutch fans hold cardboad placards as they hope to get tickets at the World Cup

Rival fans may end up together with black market tickets

For the two games in Klagenfurt, the DFB gets 5,722 tickets per game with 10,321 available for the game against Austria at the Ernst Happel Stadium, which has a capacity of 50,000.

The result could see huge numbers of fans descending on the venues ahead of the games willing to part company with large sums of cash for tickets in various areas of the arenas, leading to security issues.

With games against bitter rivals Poland, notoriously volatile Croatia and neighbors Austria, placing Germany fans in opposition blocks is something the authorities will want to avoid.

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