Friday 9th June

Köln, Münster, Gelsenkirchen,Münster

Group A FIFA WM Stadion Gelsenkirchen 21.00

Poland v Ecuador

Arrived in Köln on the eve of the tournament, ready to abuse the Weltmeister train pass I had purchased back in January for the princely sum of €349. My accommodation for the night  would be in Münster, an hour the other side of Gelsenkirchen. I tried to get accommodation in the host cities, but when I first started looking a year ago prices were three times higher than normal and this restricted my booking as I had no intention of paying over the odds, especially at a time when I didn’t have any tickets and didn’t know where in Germany I would be.

Gradually over the year I managed to secure tickets and checked train timetables to see if I could travel out of the main cities. This meant a lot of planning and I drew up a schedule which included train times and even directions to my accommodation.

Arriving in Münster I was on auto pilot as I walked the 25 minutes to my accommodation. No problem. The reception was quiet and I had to ring the bell a few times to get attention, in the meantime I filled in a registration form. A stout fraulein emerged and quickly glancing at my reservation form informed me that my booking was for yesterday! I had read that the Germans had spent a lot of time and money in training Hotel staff to ensure visitors were made to feel welcome, maybe they didn’t get further than the World Cup venue cities!

So much for all that planning. I had already seen another problem looming, as a sign as I came in highlighted a 1 a.m. curfew. Knowing my train timetable I knew I wouldn’t make that. So I didn’t get too upset by this as I began to think where to head next.

After abandoning me at reception, the woman came back and apologised, my booking was indeed for today. I seized this opportunity to explain the problem I had with the curfew and she agreed to leave a note for the night porter.

Met up with a friend in Gelsenkirchen who had not yet got a ticket, so thought it would be a good way of getting an understanding of how strictly FIFA were implementing the words that come with the issuing of the tickets regarding ID checks: only those with their name on the tickets would be admitted.

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Arriving at the Veltins Arena we quickly came across some tickets for sale – €250 for Category 1 – the best seats which had a face value of €100. We left these and carried on to  find cheaper tickets €200 for Cat 2, €100 for Cat 3.

I would have snapped the persons hand off for the €100 as by now I have been conditioned through the availability  of tickets to accept that this was the going price, having had so little luck obtaining tickets at below this price. But we carried on to the stadium turnstiles to see what was  happening. There was a steady flow and tickets and bags were being checked, but there was no sign of any people being asked to produce ID.

I had read a report the day before saying that at the England game on Saturday they would be checking ID and later in the same article the chief of police saying they could only possibly check around 10% of fans.

We continued round the stadium encountering a number of supporters with tickets to sell. Eventually we got talking to a knowledgeable German tout. He said that he had tickets for any match we wanted and that the ticket for today he had was supplied by the Ecuadorian FA.

It appears that he had been in touch with all the South American Football Associations as he said he had plenty of tickets for all the South American teams’ games. We took the ticket from him and asked if he had a card so we could contact him if necessary. The reason he gave for not having a card was that the police already knew him and his colleagues and “they could no longer operate in that way! “

Further market research before kick off told me that people were asking for €200 up to 10 minutes before kick off, but when I didn’t take up their offer they were asking how much I would pay.