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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Desperate search for Paris tickets
By John Sinnott
BBC Sport in Paris

Beneath the Eiffel Tower, Arsenal fan Paul Embery and his wife Lynn are waiting to meet relations and friends, hours ahead of the Champions League final between Arsenal and Barcelona.

Arsenal fans in Paris
Arsenal fans have been allocated just 20,500 tickets for game

Mr and Mrs Embery are feeling a bit left out.

They are milling about Paris' most famous landmark amid hundreds of Barcelona fans chanting "Barca! Barca!" to the cacophonic sound of passing car horns and klaxons.

The couple, who live in Jersey, have another problem in that they are in Paris with only one ticket, which has been provided by their brother-in-law, an Arsenal season-ticket holder.

Mr Embery has come armed with 1,000, the most he is prepared to pay for a ticket for to watch the final.

"I feel lucky to have a ticket, he told the BBC website.

A lot of football has become like a corporate event
Paul Embery

"But if we don't get one for Lynn, I'm probably going to give the ticket to a friend and watch the game with her on a big screen.

"I'd feel uncomfortable if she was left standing outside."

Arsenal's allocation is just 20,500, a source of contention for fans like Mr Embery.

"A lot of football has become like a corporate event. I know sponsors put in a lot of money, but there is something wrong when for a stadium with an 80,000 capacity, the club have been given only 20,000 tickets."

With touts charging up to 2,000. Mr Embery could be disappointed in his search for that elusive ticket.

No such worries for Arsenal player Cesc Fabregas's family, who are sightseeing at the Eiffel Tower dressed in yellow Arsenal shirts bearing the name of their famous relative.

Ferry trip

Fabregas' mother told me that her son had no regrets about his controversial move from Barcelona to Arsenal.

"He made the right decision to go to London.

"Tonight we'll be supporting Arsenal."

Fifty-five-year-old postman David Barnes, who was born in Woolwich, London, has come to Paris with his two sons Aaron and Matthew and their friend Gary Newbold.

I couldn't have missed an experience like this. I've waited all my life for this
David Barnes

They travelled over on the ferry late on Tuesday without any tickets.

"We don't expect to get tickets and the prices being quoted are just too much for us.

"But I couldn't have missed an experience like this. I've waited all my life for this.

"When Arsenal win it won't matter where I will have watched the game when we are all marching up the Champs Elysees."

Given the hordes of Barcelona fans around the Eiffel Tower, city worker Pete Green, 36, is feeling the odd one out at the party.

"The atmosphere is unbelievable but at the moment we're outnumbered by about 50 to one.

"On Tuesday, the Champs Elysees was filled with Arsenal supporters, so I'm presuming they are all nursing hangovers."

Arsenal fans in Paris
The game is Arsenal's first Champion's League final

While those Arsenal fans were sleeping soundly, Barcelona fans Josep Obiols and Josep Maria Martinez were just beginning their journey from the Catalan city.

"We had to get up at 2am to catch our 4am flight," said Mr Obiols, who hopes his team will beat Arsenal to claim their second European Cup.

"For a big club like Barcelona we have had to wait a long time - 14 years.

"For us the motivation is reduce the gap with Real Madrid, who have won the European Cup nine times."

Both Mr Obiols and Mr Maria voted for Barca president Joan Laporta, who has transformed the club in the last three years.

Before those presidential elections in 2003, the club tried to sign David Beckham

But after the England captain turned down the offer, the Laporta moved for Barca's current Brazilian talisman Ronaldinho.

"I think Laporta was a lucky man," said Mr Obiols.


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