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Sports

World Cup Ticket Lottery Hits Fever Pitch

Thousands of soccer fans received a little electronic message of joy on Friday, as e-mails from FIFA told them they had made the cut for World Cup match tickets. But the computerized lottery left many more empty-handed.

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Only the lucky got tickets from the Internet lottery

Joy and frustration will have teamed up today as millions of soccer fans were informed by football’s world governing body FIFA about whether or not they've been able to secure one or several tickets for the 2006 World Soccer Championship in Germany.

FIFA started the first out of five electronically supervised draws in mid-April and announced the results today by e-mailing everyone who’d applied for tickets. But chances for securing tickets were slim, as there were about 10 applications for each ticket in the draw.

"I’m over the moon," said one German soccer fan. "I was able to secure six tickets -- three for a match in Dortmund and another three for a fixture in Gelsenkirchen. I also went for tickets for the final, but that didn’t come off."

But the vast majority of people who’d applied for tickets emerged empty-handed from the first draw, like a man from the German town of Hannover.

"Even if I’m able to secure a ticket in the draws still to come, my soccer friends probably won’t," he said. "So we won’t be able to enjoy the championship together, but that was clear from the very start."

FIFA organizers confirmed on Friday that there'd been nearly nine million applications worldwide for the 812,000 tickets available in the first phase of sales. The applicants came from a total of 195 countries. No special contingent was set aside for German soccer fans in whose country the championship will take place.

Fraud uncovered

Symbolbild, Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft 2006, Ticktpreise

A couple of weeks ago, FIFA organizers exposed a fraudulent attempt in the United States to obtain two million match tickets. The addresses supplied in applications made via the Internet were irregular so as to obscure the real identity of their sender.

But thorough checks were carried out and the fraudulent applications were withdrawn from the draw in time. Klaus-Peter Schulenberg from the German ticket sale agency CTS assured fans on Friday that organizers had done their utmost to weed out illegal applications.

"You cannot rein in criminal energy altogether," Schulenberg said. "But on the whole I’m confident that our electronic system worked fine and kept out large-scale fraud."

Fans who haven't been able to secure tickets in the first draw will still have four more opportunities at a later stage to get lucky, as Gerhard Graus from the FIFA organizing committee explained.

"There will still be another four draws with tickets coming back from organizations and institutions which do not need the whole contingent of tickets granted to them," he said.

The same goes for tickets that were reserved for national FIFA associations. "We reckon that a good number of these tickets will not be retained and will be given back for the draws still to come."

All applicants who've received a positive notification from FIFA after the first draw will have to pay up immediately. But the tickets themselves will not be sent out until six to eight weeks before the start of the World Cup. This is meant to prevent criminals from having enough time to produce fake tickets.

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