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WORLD CUP TICKET SALES TIE-UP INTERNATIONAL PHONE LINES
Published April 23, 1998
Ticketing arrangements for the World Cup "descended into chaos" yesterday as a French hotline set up to sell 110,000 tickets was "swamped by tens of millions of phone calls," according to Harverson & Iskander of the FINANCIAL TIMES. An estimated 15 million calls came from the UK alone, the "vast majority" of which got a busy signal or a message to try later. Fans from other countries "faced similar problems," as in the first hour there were two million call attempts from the Netherlands and 1.7 million from Belgium. Although the Comite Francais d'Organization (CFO), which had arranged for 90 operators to handle the calls, "stood by its system," telecom experts said the number of operators "was far too small" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 4/23). The flood of calls caused "the continent's worst phone congestion in history," writes Fred Coleman of USA TODAY, who adds that one of the problems was that the CFO "made only one number available" instead of a special number for each country. In all, the hotline yesterday received 20 million calls, and sold 15,000 tickets (USA TODAY, 4/23).