Sunday 11th June

Sunday 11th June Hamburg, Nürnberg, Schwabach

Group D Franken Stadion, Nürnberg 18.00

Mexico v Iran

Arriving at the station I remember my friend said that to help me find him he would be “the one in green”. Have you ever seen thousands of Mexican fans descend on a city?

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I first met Manuel in 2002 in Japan/Korea. Literally, as we were on a flight between the two countries. With it being four years since we had seen each other, I thought I had better do something to help and made out a sign with his name on.

At the train station at Hamburg there were a few Mexicans but every time the train stopped more got on. Arriving at Nürnberg the masses were greeted by TV crews and promptly went into party mode. Hmmmm! The one in green? Chaos ensued as I walked around with my sign. Twenty  minutes and a PA announcement later and we were united.

I found out that despite difficult times in Mexico everyone would make an effort to come to the World Cup, no matter whether they had a ticket or not. Sure enough everywhere in the city you could see them partying. Mainly singing about how Iran would feel the taste of the “Mexican Chillies”. This chant had been made extremely popular by news articles in Mexico stating that Iranians could take offence at some of the chants directed at them. The Mexicans have a habit of taking odd phrases and attaching double meanings to them, which are widely understood by themselves and not others!

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Today I had to collect some tickets and so found the Ticket Collection Point at the Stadium. Not unexpectedly a large crowd was waiting to gain admittance to the building. After some time I made it inside and went straight to a desk where I understood I could collect all the tickets for my brother!   An envelope was produced immediately which contained today’s ticket, but nothing else was forthcoming despite the presence of a ticket certificate. I wanted to get back to my friends, who were waiting for me and thought I would just pick the tickets up at another stadium, but I was advised to go to another counter, called the ‘troubleshooting’ counter.

I joined a queue of somewhat irate fans who were giving the staff a hard time. I waited patiently (what choice do you have?) and it seemed to me that most people went away happy. I heard that the person in front had the same customer number as someone else and this had led to the ticket being issued in the other person’s name.

While I was waiting I was approached by someone (a Mexican I thought) offering me Euro 400 for my ticket for today’s game. I declined his offer and wished him good luck. Eventually my tickets were printed.  Yesss!

I didn’t find out what the problem with my tickets was, it was described to me simply as a FIFA problem.

Part of the reason the office was so busy was that a lot of the desperate Mexicans were producing Bank statements showing that money had been deducted from their accounts, under the Conditional Ticketing Programme.

(This, remember, was your one real chance of applying for tickets as screens were seen green for days on end, but all it meant was that you would be on a waiting list and FIFA would inform you no later than 48 hours (I think) before the game, if you had been successful). When they were asked if they had an e-mail all of them replied “No”. This meant that they hadn’t been allocated a ticket. I do know of someone who has already benefited from this programme and they only picked up the e-mail the day before the game!

As I left the same supporter asked me if I had changed my mind. Once again I declined but asked him who he supported. He was actually working for a ticketing agency Transworld Sports Management and he had Mexicans who had paid good money to be here, waiting for him to deliver their tickets. I didn’t see him again and I don’t think the Mexicans did either.

My Mexican friend decided that the asking price of Euro 600 was too much for this game and so we arranged to meet at Hannover, for Mexico’s next game. This time simply by the meeting point in the train station.

After the match I met Michael my German freunde from Nürnberg whose kind offer the night before I had politely accepted, staying at his house on the outskirts of Nürnberg.  As we were watching the Portugal v Angola match on TV the phone rang and he had to go back to the local station to pick up his wallet that he had left at the bar in Nürnberg station. Luckily a friend had spotted it. Guess he must have been tired.

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