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Tuesday, April 14, 1998 Published at 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK

World: Europe

No World Cup ticket? Come anyway, say French

French tourism officials have cast doubt over World Cup security arrangements by urging fans to "join the party" - even if they are without match tickets.

They have also said not all tickets will have the buyer's name and address printed on them.

Richard Allan MP of the Home Affairs Select Committee
Their message contradicts warnings to fans made by the UK Government.

The Football Association and the British and French governments have all urged fans to stay at home unless they have tickets.

[ image: Doubt over ticket arrangements]
Doubt over ticket arrangements
But launching a tourism drive in London, French tourism minister Michelle Demessine said: "Outside the football stadiums France is celebrating and we want as many people as possible to take part."

French tourism officials also contradicted a multi-million pound TV advertising campaign by the Home Office and the FA, claiming all tickets would carry the name and address of the purchaser and supporters presenting them would need to show proof of identity.

Tourism press officer Fabien Roussel said: "All tickets sold do not have a name and address with them necessarily. There will not be a check of the identity of the person who presents them necessarily."

Mr Roussel also confirmed that giant TV screens would be set up across France for fans without tickets. But but he was unable to say where they would be or what security arrangements there would be.

In a statement issued later on Tuesday the French tourist minister sought to clarify her remarks at the earlier conference, insisting that they supported the British Government's "no ticket, don't travel" advice.

Ms Demessine said: "I was speaking to the 12 million English visitors who come to France each summer, and I had intended to reassure them that they need not avoid the country for the duration of the World Cup," she said.

"I was speaking to the 12 million English visitors who would like to discover our beautiful country."

"I support the approach of the British authorities - as I in fact said this morning in London - who are advising English fans without tickets not to come to France in the hope of attending a football match."

"But I must also think of all the other visitors."

The Football Supporters Association says it is delighted that fans have been urged to travel, whether they have tickets or not.

Adam Brown of the Football Supporters Association
"I do not think there is anything wrong with going to enjoy the tournament as long as they do not expect to get in to games without a ticket or buy one out there," said FSA President Adam Brown.

[ image: Britain and France have co-operated over security]
Britain and France have co-operated over security
"We welcome the comments because the British Government and the FA may not want people to go, but anyone who was going will have booked a long time ago and will not forfeit their holiday.

"We know of people, our own members, who are members of the England Travel Club who do not know if they are going to get tickets but have had to book their accommodation already.

"If there is a welcoming attitude from the French then that minimises the risk of mass arrests and deportations that we have seen in the past."

The French officials were launching "Bonjour 98", a tourism drive designed to appeal to football fans and non football fans alike. One key part of it is a pledge to keep accommodation costs down.

Under the "Prix Bleus" price guarantee, 10,000 hotels and campsites have pledged not to raise their prices during June and July.

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