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Beckenbauer hits back at Blatter over ticket row

Written by: Staff
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DUESSELDORF, Germany, Mar 6 (Reuters) Germany organising committee president Franz Beckenbauer today rejected FIFA's criticism that their World Cup ticketing is confusing, saying the world body had worked closely with them on the system.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had attacked the German organising committee's ticket sales operations in a Swiss newspaper interview yesterday, saying FIFA should have kept control of ticket management and will take it back for 2010.

''These accusations are irritating,'' Beckenbauer said in Duesseldorf at the start of a two-day technical meeting of 32 World Cup participants ahead of the tournament that starts on June 9.

''We knew that the issue of ticketing would be the biggest problem,'' Beckenbauer added, referring to the massive demand that has far outstripped the supply of the three million tickets available.

''It's an extremely sensitive topic. But there have been 20 meetings already with FIFA. And FIFA was kept informed every step of the way. That's why it surprises me when the FIFA president comes out with such comments.'' In an interview with the Neue Zuericher Zeitung newspaper published in Zurich, Blatter said the German Football Federation (DFB) opted for a sales system, based on a series of lotteries because demand far outstripped supply, that was confusing.

''The Germans picked a system I can't understand at all,'' said Blatter yesterday. ''I don't know how many meetings we've had about that. We simply aren't making any progress with the DFB.

''It would probably have been better if we had taken over the ticketing ourselves. I had my reservations about it from the start but in the end I'll be blamed for everything. In South Africa in 2010 we will take over control of the ticketing again.'' German organisers have conceded, however, that ticketing remains their biggest worry with orders running at 100,000 a day and little prospect of returns to ease the shortage.

Only the person named on each ticket will be allowed access to the stadiums and organisers have warned that spot checks on identity will be carried out as fans make their way to the matches.

REUTERS AY RN1737

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