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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Your World Cup questions answered
Julie Nerney, Claus Melchior, Piara Powar, Supt Roger Evans

Our panel of experts has answered a selection of the World Cup questions you sent them.

Julie Nerney is an England fan, Claus Melchior is a German football expert, Piara Power is a football racism expert and Supt Roger Evans heads the uniformed police in Germany.

BAD PRESS?

I read with dismay the trouble caused by Polish football hooligans in Germany... but I can't help feeling that if English supporters had been involved, it would have got far more press coverage and condemnation. Do you think this is fair?
Tony, Wakefield

Julie: "It certainly isn't fair, but the best way to deal with this is to prove people wrong. The three-pronged approach of banning known troublemakers, fans self-policing and positive action to promote fan friendship by English fans has made great strides since Japan 2002. The lack of "bad news" stories to cover and the need to fill column inches/air time now sees the media focusing on the good news stories which have been unreported for well over a decade. I hope Fifa make the same commendations for our fans as Uefa did in Euro 2004 and shift their focus to fan violence in other nations."

Piara: "The arrests made at the Poland Germany game received extensive coverage in the German and Polish media. In the UK, the possibility of problems around this match and with Polish fans in general was a big story in the UK media leading into the tournament. So I'm not sure the comparison you make is true, England fans get a bad press but so do supporters of other nations."

Roger: "There were bits on the news here in Germany, about 30 seconds, but if that had been English fans it would have been wall-to-wall. I don't think it's fair because the whole purpose of me being out here is to treat the fans on their behaviour, not their reputation. Years ago, it was deserved but the last six or seven years it's consistently recycled. By the way, only 40 of the arrests involving the Polish were for substantive offences and 400 were preventative arrests."

OVERPAID AND OVER HERE?

Would the panel agree that too much money paid to footballers has taken a lot of fight and spirit out of the game?
Stuart Baker-Brown, Dorset

Julie: "Listening to the players, I can't believe that they don't want to win honours at the highest level and the World Cup is the biggest of all. When you are a professional footballer you want to play regularly and to win games. Look at Shaun Wright-Phillips and Scott Parker - taking the money by moving to Chelsea has seen them have to move on to get games. I wish I could see more passion from the English team, but that's what we are used to in the English game and international football is sometimes very different."

Claus: "Interesting question. It seems to me that like the older generation always complaining about the younger, football fans always seem to complain that today's players in some ways do not come up to the standards set by previous generations of players. There can be no doubt that football players are ridiculously overpaid and sometimes might be inclined to take it easy, but I do not think that the top players ever lose the competitive instinct. I am sure that David Beckham, in spite of all his fame and money, wants to win trophies just a much as did the players who won the World Cup for England in 1966."

PRICE OF DEDICATION?

Julie, do you save up over four years to be able to afford to travel abroad and support England? And does your employer have any problems with it?
Martin, Farnborough, England

Julie: "It does take real commitment as all of your holiday time and money needs to go on going to the games - home and away - both to enjoy them and also to qualify for tickets for the tournament. Fortunately I have a large credit card limit (!) and am self-employed so I can book the time off easily, although it does mean I have to work hard either side of the time off! It is harder for my partner who can't be away for a long period of time - when we went to Portugal he could stay out for 3 weeks, but this time we have to come back so he can go to work at least one or two days each week."

ARREST THE TOUTS?

How come there are so many touts selling tickets & making a small fortune. why can't they be arrested, their tickets seized and given to true fans?
Malcolm, Brentwood, Essex

Roger: "It's not an offence out here so we have to live with it. The reason ticket touting was made an offence in the UK is because of the segregation between fans and concerns that home fans would get in with the away fans, but that's not really an issue here because there isn't any segregation in this tournament."

ENGLAND FANS?

What did Germany expect from England fans and have they been pleasantly surprised so far?
Karen Meekin, Swindon

Claus: "You have to realize that German football fans actually have a great appreciation of English football as well as English fans and it has been noticed that there was no fan trouble at World Cup 2002 and Euro 2004. Still there might have been some apprehensions that the close proximity of Germany to England and the old rivalry might encourage more potential troublemakers to cross the channel. But we did not expect major trouble and of course we are happy that none has occurred so far. (And with all the history of English hooliganism, don't forget that it was Germans who nearly killed a French policeman in Lens during the 1998 World Cup!)"

BRITISH BOBBIES?

How can a few British bobbies with no arrest powers prevent disorder in Germany? Surely this is just a PR exercise?
Nigel Burns, Liverpool

Roger: "Yes, it is a PR exercise. The more people that know they are here, the better. The four officers in the city centres don't have arrest powers but the 45 on the railway network and airports do. There are 320 uniformed officers from 13 countries in total in Germany, it's the first time this has been done and the Germans have made a really good job of it. Certain things could improve but the main aim was to make people from different countries feel safe in Germany. So in a sense it is a PR exercise and these officers are ambassadors. They are meant to help the German officers and they are not meant to deal with disorder."

WASTE OF TIME?

Isn't it all a waste of time and money? Shouldn't the time and money be spent instead on bringing sport to children around the world, especially those in slum areas?
Ken Creffield, UK

Julie: "I feel passionately that sport is a force for good around the world and at all levels. It has the ability to unite, to provide evidence of what loyalty, team spirit and passion means and also has positive health benefits. Any money the FA make will be distributed to grass roots football - as they are a not-for-profit business. While there is a lot wrong with the Fifa administration, the money that makes its way back to the national associations does make a difference."

GERMAN LESSONS?

What new things are visiting fans learning about Germany?
Terrence Hamnett, Southport, England

Claus: "I guess that depends on their prior knowledge and expectations. If they expected a well-organized and smooth-running tournament they are probably not disappointed. But there also is party atmosphere that accompanies the games. I hope that visiting fans will learn that we have come to be a welcoming and friendly people that knows how to celebrate and have a laugh with people from all over the world. Maybe this will help to overcome the cliches about goose-stepping soldiers and policemen with steel helmets that still seem to dominate some people's view of Germany."

HOLOCAUST DENIAL?

President Ahmadinejad of Iran is known for his holocaust denial (a serious offence in Germany) and his wish to eradicate Israel. If he stepped on German soil to support the Iranian football team, would you be in favour of indictment?
Simon Shirley

Piara: "I can see the point you are making Simon, Holocaust denial is a serious issue. But without backtracking, I agree with those that say Ahmadinejad should come to the World Cup regardless of how Iran do. Politically, the West badly needs to engage with Iran and the backdrop of an event like the World Cup is as good an opportunity to start a diplomatic process as any. I've seen all types of positive interactions between people over the past week, so why not between nations? Prosecution is a question for the German authorities and international lawyers. Given where the comments were made, and their context, it's doubtful."

CLOSING GAP?

Do you think that in terms of individual skills and overall team tactics the gap between teams from the various continents have got closer in this world cup?
David Watkins, Watford, England

Julie: "I think that the globalisation of football now means that talented footballers from all round the world can be spotted by bigger, more established leagues and forge a career at the highest level. This means that the talent pool is bigger and their ability to learn from equally or more skilled players permeates back through to the national sides when they meet up - Didier Drogba is an excellent example. Add to that the fact that many successful managers now manage the so called "emerging" nations and the gap is bound to close."

TERRACE RACISM?

Why is more not being done to control the terrace racism? Are the FAs, Fifa and Uefa doing enough? Do you also believe that there is an onus on the media to behave and report in a fair, responsible manner?
Glenn, London

Piara "Petty nationalism is still a huge feature of England's fan base. The singing of the 'Ten German bombers' song, the sale of merchandise that glorifies war and the general insulting of some nations, is a bit hard to take. It doesn't represent the way most of us live our lives in England. The problem runs deep, drawing on all types of popular English culture and will be difficult to curb. I'm not sure what the authorities can do outside stadiums, but the tabloids could definitely adopt a different tone."

WHERE'S WOLFGANG?

Herr Melchior, Whatever happened to Wolfgang Wolf, who used to manage Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga?
Owen Dakin, Brighton, UK

Claus: "Wolfgang Wolf, just because of his name the most suitable Wolfsburg manager ever, was fired by Wolfsburg in March 2003. He was hired by relegation-bound FC Nürnberg (Nuremberg) in late April 2003, but arrived too late to avoid relegation. He led the club back into the Bundesliga in the 2003/04 season and managed to keep it there in the following season. But he was fired the following October and hired by FC Kaiserslautern three weeks later. A 2-2 draw in their last game with, of all teams, Wolfsburg, sent Kaiserslautern into the second division. Wolf will stay on as manager."

MEET THE PANEL

Julie Nerney
Julie Nerney
England fan

When asked to describe Julie in three words, someone once said "Nuts About Football". That sums up the passion and pride she feels supporting England and Aston Villa. She saw her club side through triumphs in the 1980s and 90s and has followed England since Italia 90. A member of the official England fans group, she is now in three figures in the number of England matches attended.

Claus Melchior
Claus Melchior
German football expert

Claus was born in 1954, five weeks after the "Miracle of Berne" - Germany 's surprising first World Cup win. He lives in Munich and is co-owner of a bookshop specializing in English-language books. He is a long-suffering supporter of TSV Munich 1860, Munich's "other" club, and has co-authored a history of the club. Since its foundation in 1995 he is also part of the editorial team of "Der toedliche Pass", a quarterly magazine dealing with all aspects of football culture.

Piara Powar
Piara Power
Kick Racism Out of Football

Piara Powar is director of UK campaigners Kick It Out. Since 1994, it has worked throughout football, education and community sectors to challenge racism and work for positive change. Football's governing bodies, including the Professional Footballers Association, the FA and the Premier League fund and support it.

Supt Roger Evans
Supt Roger Evans
Leading UK uniformed officers in Germany

Superintendent Roger Evans is in charge of the British uniformed officers in Germany. More than 80 UK police are in Europe for the World Cup, 48 of them in uniform and in Germany. They are working with German colleagues to identify known troublemakers. Those of them on transport and in airports have equal powers to their German colleagues.




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