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World Cup Tickets a Precious Commodity

Demand for World Cup football tickets far exceeds the supply. So those who have them feel privileged and do not seem to be bothered by the strict regulations. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer is in Germany covering the World Cup and has more.

About three million tickets were issued for the 64 games in football's premiere event. But for the first time, all tickets for the World Cup have an embedded electronic chip to identify the ticket holder and to counter illegal buying and selling. The tickets are printed in English with only public transportation details in German.

The prices for first round group matches ranged from 35 to 100 euros, or about $44 to $126. The prices go up in succeeding rounds to a high of $758 (720 euros) for the best seat at the championship match in Berlin.

Because of the security features of the tickets, with the names of the holder printed on them, it has been inconvenient for those who have had them for a long time and then, for one reason or another, cant use them.

Kilian Maier of Cologne had tried to purchase two tickets online last year for each of seven matches, but he got them in the lottery-style system for only one match - Saturday's game in Kaiserslautern between the United States and Italy. He told VOA Sports what information he had to provide when he applied for the tickets.

"They asked for a lot of things - the number of your passport, your address, your birth date, et-cetera, et-cetera," said Kilian Maier. "The only thing they did not ask for was your sexual preferences."

Maier put the tickets in the name of himself and his girlfriend, but it turned out his girlfriend was unable to go the match. Maier decided he would take his father instead, so he had to go through a special procedure.

"Go onto the Internet, log into that account and then state that the one ticket you want to change against another one," he said. "And as long as it was within your family, the only thing I had to do was to give the same data relating to my father as the one I had given relating to my girlfriend before. And then two days later I got an e-mail that it was successfully transferred and that I could pick up the new ticket at one of the 12 cities where matches are held."

Kilian Maier said he had a very short wait when he made the exchange at the ticket center in Cologne. And he said even though the tickets cost more than he would have liked, and he is seeing U.S.A.-Italy and not home country Germany, it should be special.

"I think I am quite lucky to have tickets for this match and I am really happy that I can go there and see what it is, such a World Cup, because normally I just go to second division matches," noted Kilian Maier. "On the other hand, being very, very, very happy, and still having paid 95 euros for two tickets, it is not like winning a lottery, its like buying a lottery, huh?"

Klaus Peter, who lives near Hamburg, was one of the lucky ones who got tickets fairly close to the start of the tournament as he repeatedly tried on the Internet. He also received two tickets for just one match, Ukraine versus Saudi Arabia in Hamburg on June 19. He will take his 11-year-old son.

"I think its the only time to go to a World Cup, when its at home, so I wanted to get a ticket and now I am very happy about this, and I think it will be a great feeling to go here," said Klaus Peter.

FIFA, football's world governing body, has criticized the somewhat complex lottery-style system that German organizers set up for purchasing tickets to this World Cup and has promised a change for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.