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YEKATERINBURG, Russia, June 17, 2018 (News Wires) - Russian fans took to social media Saturday to demand why whole rows of prime pitch-side seats were empty during the World Cup match between Egypt and Uruguay, while locals had to pay nearly a third of an average monthly salary for a poorer view.

The official attendance for Friday's game at Ekaterinburg Arena was just 27,015, according to FIFA, at a stadium which has had its capacity expanded to 33,061 with the unusual addition of temporary external stands behind each goal.

The thousands of empty bright-orange seats were embarrassingly conspicuous to fans all over the world watching TV coverage of the second game in soccer's premier event.

"I was a bit upset to see empty seats but I don't have control over this, or the necessary information. It's our FIFA partners who deal with tickets," regional governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev said on Instagram.

A spokesman for soccer's governing body said: "FIFA has looked into this and we can confirm that the matter related to the match in Ekaterinburg was mainly linked to 'no-shows' from all constituent groups. There were no problems with FIFA's ticketing operations on-site that would have prevented ticket holders from attending the match and, as already mentioned, 32,278 tickets had been allocated."

'Constituent groups' includes member associations and sponsors, as well as the general public.

Olga Kotlyarova, a former Russian athlete who works in the information department of the city administration, wrote on Facebook that many of the empty seats belonged to VIP guests who had decided to watch from an indoor lounge because the weather was cold.

There was no shortage of scathing comments from locals.

One man, Vlad Chekhomov, posted on social media: "My friend was sitting in the top rows of the main stand, right under the roof, for 12,600 roubles ($200). He would have been better off outside."

The average monthly salary in Yekaterinburg is about 40,000 roubles, and a typical pension around 12,000.

A Russian fan, Viktor Smirnov, complained on social media he had ended up in the outside stands despite originally buying what he thought was a pitch-side seat, and said the unfilled seats on the day were a scandal "on an international scale".

Another, Yevgeny Strugov, said he had bought a seat that turned out not to exist, and twice had to persuade police to let him through. "They were trying to accuse me of forging my ticket," he said.

The FIFA spokesman said he could not comment without knowing the case, but there were clearance areas at every stadium where any ticket problems could be resolved.

GRONZY, June 17, 2018 (News Wires) - Russian fans took to social media Saturday to demand why whole rows of prime pitch-side seats were empty during the World Cup match between Egypt and Uruguay, while locals had to pay nearly a third of an average monthly salary for a poorer view.

The official attendance for Friday's game at Ekaterinburg Arena was just 27,015, according to FIFA, at a stadium which has had its capacity expanded to 33,061 with the unusual addition of temporary external stands behind each goal.

The thousands of empty bright-orange seats were embarrassingly conspicuous to fans all over the world watching TV coverage of the second game in soccer's premier event.

"I was a bit upset to see empty seats but I don't have control over this, or the necessary information. It's our FIFA partners who deal with tickets," regional governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev said on Instagram.

A spokesman for soccer's governing body said: "FIFA has looked into this and we can confirm that the matter related to the match in Ekaterinburg was mainly linked to 'no-shows' from all constituent groups. There were no problems with FIFA's ticketing operations on-site that would have prevented ticket holders from attending the match and, as already mentioned, 32,278 tickets had been allocated."

'Constituent groups' includes member associations and sponsors, as well as the general public.

Olga Kotlyarova, a former Russian athlete who works in the information department of the city administration, wrote on Facebook that many of the empty seats belonged to VIP guests who had decided to watch from an indoor lounge because the weather was cold.

There was no shortage of scathing comments from locals.

One man, Vlad Chekhomov, posted on social media: "My friend was sitting in the top rows of the main stand, right under the roof, for 12,600 roubles ($200). He would have been better off outside."

The average monthly salary in Yekaterinburg is about 40,000 roubles, and a typical pension around 12,000.

A Russian fan, Viktor Smirnov, complained on social media he had ended up in the outside stands despite originally buying what he thought was a pitch-side seat, and said the unfilled seats on the day were a scandal "on an international scale".

Another, Yevgeny Strugov, said he had bought a seat that turned out not to exist, and twice had to persuade police to let him through. "They were trying to accuse me of forging my ticket," he said.

The FIFA spokesman said he could not comment without knowing the case, but there were clearance areas at every stadium where any ticket problems could be resolved.

 

CAIRO, June 17, 2018 (MENA) - The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) thanked the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) over its efforts for giving the opportunity for the Arab audience, topped by the Egyptians, to watch the matches of the World Cup.

This comes within the association's keenness on providing such a service to the Egyptian people, along with the state's officials, the association said in a statement on Saturday.

The association is not a part of the crises in this matter. The FIFA is totally responsible for the rights of broadcasting the tournament, the statement said, noting that the Egyptian federation is committed to the international laws and regulations concerning this matter.

 

MOSCOW, June 13, 2018 (News Wires) - Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked FIFA on Wednesday for keeping politics out of sport, the day before the start of the soccer World Cup.

Russia will host the tournament from June 14 to July 15 in 12 stadiums spread across cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi.

“I wanted to underline FIFA’s commitment to the principle of sports without politics,” Putin said during a FIFA Congress in Moscow while standing next to the World Cup trophy.

MOSCOW, June 11, 2018 (News Wires) - FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the global soccer governing body would not discuss the possibility of having a 48-team World Cup in Qatar in 2022 at its congress next week, saying it would first discuss the matter with the host country.

“The FIFA administration will discuss with the hosts and then we will see,” Infantino told reporters in Moscow. “For the moment, what there is is a World Cup with 32 teams.”

Infantino, who said it was premature to discuss the issue at the FIFA congress in Moscow on Wednesday, did not give a clear timeline on when a decision would be made. He stressed, however, that a decision should be made before qualification for the tournament, which is likely begin in early 2019.

When asked if Qatar could co-host the World Cup with another country if the tournament were enlarged, Infantino said: “It’s really premature to discuss any of the details about that.”

The World Cup will be increased from 32 to 48 teams from 2026 but the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) proposed in April that the change be introduced in 2022.

That proposal has met with some resistance.

The head of European Leagues (EPFL), Lars-Christer Olsson, told Reuters in April that the plan to introduce 48 teams at the 2022 World Cup was impossible to carry out and did not make sense.

FIFA said on Sunday it had approved a new system for its rankings that would “eliminate the potential for ranking manipulation” and be introduced after this year’s World Cup in Russia.

“It gives, I think, some more weight to official matches and so on but also takes away some of these imbalances we had before,” Infantino said. “I hope it will be a little less subject to criticism.”

FIFA also said it had ratified the two bids to host the 2026 World Cup –- a Moroccan bid and a joint one by the United States, Canada and Mexico -- and that they would be put to its Congress to vote on Wednesday.

The United States hosted the World Cup in 1994 and bid unsuccessfully for 2022, while Mexico staged the 1970 and 1986 tournaments. Morocco has already made four failed bids to host the World Cup.

Russia is hosting this year’s World Cup from Thursday, until July 15, in 12 venues spread across 11 cities including Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi.

 

CAIRO, June 11, 2018 (News Wires) - Egyptians hoping to watch the World Cup for free have been offered a chink of light after the country’s competition authority said it was obliging FIFA to let state TV show games.

Egypt’s national team - including star striker Mohamed Salah - is gearing up for its first World Cup in 28 years, but matches are only being broadcast in the country by Qatar- based pay television network beIN.

In a statement yesterday the Egyptian Competition Authority said it had decided to “enforce its authority” and “compel FIFA to give the right for direct ground transmission to the (Egyptian) National Media Authority” for 22 World Cup matches.

The authority said it received a complaint against FIFA, accusing the international football organising body of violating Egypt’s competition law.

“FIFA has deprived competitors of beIN company from presenting better offers to the Egyptian viewer,” the authority said.

It said it wrote to football’s world governing body on May 17 “calling on FIFA to obey its publicised policy, but it has not cooperated with the continuous correspondence by the authority so far”.

It remains unclear if FIFA will comply with the demand by the time the World Cup kicks off on Thursday.

In Egypt, subscribers have to buy a beIN decoder for 1,630 pounds and pay a fee of over 2,000 pounds to watch the World Cup.

In a country of 97 million people where the average wage does not exceed €200, that means getting the subscription is beyond the means of many football fans.

 

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