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Monday, 24 June, 2002, 06:24 GMT 07:24 UK

Hosts blamed for ticket chaos

Fifa has admitted that it warned World Cup organisers about ticketing problems three months before the finals.

And world football's ruling body has laid most of the blame firmly at the door of the South Korean and Japanese organising committees.

Fifa's ticketing sub-committee chief David Will said he warned the co-hosts in February there would be no tickets if they failed to provide crucial information about the 20 stadiums.

" I expressed that there was a crisis and if we didn't get the data we would not be able to produce the tickets for the World Cup "
Fifa's David Will

The organising committees KOWOC and JAWOC had missed a deadline to provide data about the seats which had been set for mid-October.

The tournament could not have taken place without tickets as there were serious concerns about terrorism and the threat of hooliganism.

"At every one of the meetings I tried to stress how vital it was to receive the data," said Will.

"At the end of February I expressed that there was a crisis and if we didn't get the data we would not be able to produce the tickets for the World Cup."

The sight of thousands of empty seats during the early games caused a major controversy.

The Japanese and Korean governments voiced frustration at the situation and JAWOC criticised Fifa's British-based ticketing operating agent Byrom for some of the problems.

" Everybody blames September 11 for things but it did have a dramatic effect "
David Will

But Will said the delay in getting the final information, which was provided in March, meant Byrom had to complete "six months' work in six weeks".

"Byrom has been subjected to an enormous amount of criticism, most recently and disappointingly from JAWOC," added Will.

"The truth is that it was Byrom who rescued the ticketing process from a crisis situation."

International ticket sales were particularly low in Korea, although South Korea's amazing run to the semi-finals has boosted demand for their games.

"Everybody blames 11 September for things but it did have a dramatic effect," said Will.

"International sales went down because it stopped people travelling internationally."


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