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Many World Cup Fans Forced to Pitch Tents


Not all World Cup football fans who have traveled to Germany for the tournament have tickets or hotel rooms - or can even afford them. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer spoke to some of them at a campground outside Cologne.

Twenty three-year-old James Harrison of England was determined to experience the atmosphere of the World Cup, even if he did not have tickets or enough money to buy them.

So he and a good buddy from the Isle of Wight purchased a used, somewhat beat-up 1991 Citroen car for less than $200 and drove to Germany at the start of the month-long tournament. They had limited funds, so they brought a small tent. Harrison said he came across the campground outside Cologne by chance and it charges only a few euros, or several dollars, per night per person.

He told VOA Sports the campground facilities are more than adequate.

"Really, I can't complain at all," said James Harrison. "For such little money you pay, I mean you get more or less everything you need. So it's excellent. Really very, very good.

Brewer: "You think there is enough hot water for everybody?"

Harrison: "Yes, very good, very good. Fifty cents a shower, 50 cents a shower. That will do, hahahaha. You put 50 cents in the slot and the shower comes out for about five minutes and you have a good old wash and that sets you up for the day, haha."

James Harrison said it has been difficult to get tickets for England games. On the black market the tickets are going for up to one thousand dollars.

Harrison explained why tickets for Tuesday's England-Sweden game in Cologne are in such demand.

"It's the history between the two nations," he said. "Sweden is not necessarily a super power in world football, but they always seem to beat England in big tournaments. And obviously with our coach [Sven Goren Ericksson] being Swedish, then there you go, there's the atmosphere. It should be a good game."

James Harrison said he has met campers from many countries and all have been very friendly.

"There are Brazilians, Portuguese," explained James Harrison. "There are guys from Eastern Europe, Poland, Czech, Croatia. Obviously we've got some Koreans, so there's more or less every nation, you know, we're having a great time."

Like Harrison, Oh Sung-Min from South Korea did not get tickets for the World Cup, but he is content enjoying the atmosphere.

"I support the team with many friends, many Korean friends, so it's very good," said Oh Sung-Min. "It's very good. I'm pleased to support them with my friends."

Not all the campers are young. June Gray is 62 years old and she came to Germany from Hull, England with her husband David, who is 54, and their son. She said her son begged them to bring him to the World Cup, even though they did not have tickets. She had never camped before and the family had to all the camping gear for the trip. Gray said she is having fun, but also told VOA she would rather be sleeping in a comfortable bed.

"I don't think I want to do it again," said June Gray.

Brewer: "You don't think you will?"

Gray: "No, I don't think I will. No. Hotels are for me, hahahaha. I tell you what. I like my waterbed at home."

But June Gray is like all the campers and team fans here in Germany - they want to see their teams go far in this World Cup.

Gray believes this England team has a chance to do that.

"I think maybe they will get through to the finals with Germany, I think," she said. "But I would like them to win. We all would. But if we don't, it's not bad thing, is it? At least we are trying."

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