Thursday, June 22, 2006

From disappointment to joy

Disappointment turned to celebration for hundreds of schoolchildren yesterday after they learned that they would be going to see a World Cup match in Germany after all.

The 350 children aged between 11 and 15 from schools across the country returned from Germany on Monday without seeing a game after they were caught up in an alleged ticket fraud.

Yesterday, however, the pupils were told that they would now be able to see a game, possibly an England quarter-final match, following talks between the Government and FIFA, soccer's international governing body.
British Airways has agreed to fly the children to Germany where FIFA will provide free match tickets.

In a separate offer, the Premiership club Portsmouth has agreed to pay £10,000 for 23 boys from Mayville High School, in the city, to travel to Germany to see England play Ecuador on Sunday.

Jay Francis, 14, from Portsmouth, said: "We can't believe it. To see a match is good but to see England is so amazing that I can't comprehend it."

Richard Sprake, 14, also from Portsmouth, said: "I'm speechless. I have no words to explain how I feel.

"When we got to Germany and found we weren't going to the match it was so upsetting but now we've gone from a real low to a real high now we are going to see our team play."

Thames Valley police yesterday arrested a man and a woman in Slough, Berks, in connection with an alleged tickets fraud. They were later released on bail.

A police spokesman said that they were investigating allegations of deception involving £60,000.

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