Cops probe England locker room break-in

2010-06-19 11:12

South African police today launched an investigation of how an

angry fan breached security and burst into England’s locker room in Cape Town

after their draw with Algeria.


The man in a red T-shirt was removed from the changing room, but

was released without questioning, police spokesperson Colonel Billy Jones

said.


Guards were being questioned about why the man was let go, while

police were examining security camera footage to try to find out how the man

managed to get in, Jones added.


The English FA has made an official complaint to Fifa about the

incident, which came after the team were booed off the field by many supporters

following the woeful 0-0 draw.


“A fan got in past Fifa security, we’ve formally complained to Fifa

after the game and will follow it up in writing. It is not acceptable.

"Thankfully there was no serious harm done,” said an FA spokesperson.


The incident was even more sensitive given that Britain’s Prince

Harry and Prince William are reported to have visited the players in the

dressing room earlier in the evening.


Security has been a major concern for the organisers ever since

South Africa was named the Fifa Soccer World Cup host six years ago in Zurich,

Switzerland, with worries focusing mainly on the country’s high crime

rate.


But stadium security has moved to the fore as stewards at Cape Town

and three other venues walked off the job last week in a pay dispute that forced

police to take over security around the fields.


Protesting stewards twice clashed with police over the last week,

once in Durban and once in Cape Town, as they tried to demand their salaries

from Stallion security, the firm that had been contracted by Fifa to screen fans

entering the gates.


Police were also under pressure to crack down on illegal ticket

sales today, with Johannesburg-based newspaper, Saturday Star, proclaiming

“Ticket crooks rule” across its front page.


South Africa outlawed the resale of tickets just before the

tournament started, meaning tickets can only be legally transferred through

Fifa.


Scalpers can face a R15?000 fine and up to five years in prison.

A

Nigerian man was slapped with a three-year sentence this week after he was found

with 30 tickets that could not be verified.


Two men had their tickets for yesterday’s USA-Slovenia match

confiscated just before the match as they were apparently trying to sell them

outside the stadium, police said.


But one officer at the gate to Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg

said police struggled to keep out scalpers, as fans desperate for tickets show

up at the stadiums hoping to find a way in.


“We are trying to keep them away because it is illegal,” he told

the Sapa news agency. “But they are moving around all the time.”


Fifa has cumbersome rules for reselling tickets, which can only be

done online and not within three days of the match.


The world football body already drew flack for its online ticket

sales system in a country where internet access remains a luxury.


The threat of stiff penalties has not deterred scalpers from openly

circulating around stadiums, and their numbers appear to be growing as the group

stages advance and matches become more critical to teams’ hopes of making the

next round.


Ahead of England’s 0-0 draw with Algeria in Cape Town, one cheeky

set of fans even jokingly offered to sell a young boy in exchange for four

seats, carrying a placard reading “Child 4 Sale – 4 Tickets”.


Ten-year-old Josh Conlin was spared however when his 23-year-old

cousin Jason Dodwell managed to acquire four tickets at about double the box

office price.

 

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