There is growing concern in Welsh rugby at the "number of tickets being offered for sale on the internet by touts for the match against England in Cardiff a week on Saturday," according to John Westerby of the LONDON TIMES. The Millennium Stadium has long been a sell-out for what could be the deciding match of the RBS Six Nations Championship, "but tickets are being resold at inflated prices and officials are warning fans of the dangers of being ripped off by online outlets." For a game between England and Wales the only tickets remaining are hospitality packages starting at £379 ($572) per person, "but even these tickets are already being sold at higher than face value online." Pairs of tickets with a face value of £75 ($113) per seat were changing hands Monday night at "more than four times that price." Although reselling tickets is not illegal, "it is prohibited by the terms and conditions of the original purchase." Welsh Rugby Union CEO Roger Lewis said, "We take the issue of ticket touting extremely seriously" (LONDON TIMES, 3/5).
Events and Attractions
The start time at Albert Park "would change annually to include a night race every three years under the proposal from former world champion Lewis Hamilton, backed by rising Australian star Daniel Ricciardo," according to Peter Rolfe of the HERALD SUN. The man widely regarded as the future world boss of F1, Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner, also said that "Melbourne should consider a night race to broaden the appeal of the Albert Park event globally." Hamilton, who won the Melbourne race and the world title in 2008, said that "rotating start times to see racing commence at midday, twilight and under lights after dark could prevent the Australian Grand Prix from growing stale." Ricciardo said the current time was "a bit in the middle" between a day and a night race, and he saw merit in an annual rotation. Ricciardo: "It sounds like a good compromise." Australian GP Chief Andrew Westacott has previously "ruled out" a night race. But F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone is "keen on the idea," believing it would boost int'l TV ratings and "add character" (HERALD SUN, 3/4).
The main U.N. agency in Gaza "has canceled the annual marathon in the small Palestinian territory after ruling Hamas Islamists banned women from the race," according to Nidal al-Mughrabi of REUTERS. Hamas said that "having women in the annual event, scheduled for April 10, contravened Islamic tradition even though dozens of Palestinian school girls had started the two previous marathons." The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which sponsors the race, said in a statement: "This disappointing decision follows discussions with the authorities in Gaza, who have insisted that no women should participate." Relations between UNRWA and Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since '07 and is shunned by the West over its hostility toward Israel, "have been strained at times." Some Hamas officials "have accused UNRWA of failing to include representatives of the Gaza government when UNRWA has hosted meetings with international visitors." Several Hamas lawmakers "have been critical of the curriculum in UNRWA-run schools" (REUTERS, 3/5).
EXPRESSING REGRET: The AP's Ian Deitch reported Gaza government spokesperson Taher Nunu said that "Hamas regretted the cancellation of the marathon, but that it had told the U.N. agency that local norms must be respected." Nunu said, "We emphasize that the government had informed UNRWA about its approval to organize this event ... maintaining certain matters related to the customs and traditions of the Palestinian people" (AP, 3/5).
Jose Mourinho said the ManU-Real Madrid match at Old Trafford was the match "the world will stop'" to watch, according to Colin Young of the London DAILY MAIL. And it seems some fans were "prepared to pay silly money" to watch Tuesday's match, which Real Madrid won 2-1. Although official ticket exchange sites such as viagogo.com were showing no availability prior to the match, other websites like ticket4football.com had set prices of up to £1,000 ($1,511) each for "premium seats." Some fans had "offered to sell spare tickets" for up to £750 ($1,133). One ticket agent based near the ground, who asked not to be named, said, "Tickets are going for silly money, thousands in fact." Madrid fans hoping to see "the Special One get one over on Ferguson again" could also expect to pay £800 ($1,209) on the black market (THE DAILY MAIL, 3/5).
Pakistan Hockey Federation Secretary Asif Bajwa said that the "Pakistan hockey team will visit India from April 5 as a part of a bilateral hockey series which has been revived after seven years," according to PAKISTAN TODAY. Bajwa said that after the Pakistan team travels to India, the Indian team will visit Pakistan from April 23 "for a similar visit". Bajwa said five matches "will be played in India and similar matches in Pakistan." The Pakistan team will play matches in Ranchi, Lakhnow, New Delhi, Mohali and Jalandhar, "while the venues of matches in Pakistan are Faisalabad, Karachi, Sialkot and Lahore" which will be hosting two matches at night (PAKISTAN TODAY, 3/5). ANI reported a PHF official said that the body may persuade Hockey India officials to "send their team first as they fear that the Indian government might hinder their return visit after Pakistan's tour." The official further said that "there was also a possibility that the two bodies could agree to financial compensations in millions for a team in case it withdraws from making the return trip" (ANI, 3/2).
With a little more than a year to go before the start of the World Cup, the Brazilian federal government has estimated that a little more than R$7B ($3.6B) will be spent on the 12 World Cup stadiums. In '07, the costs had been estimated at R$3B ($1.5B). In other words, "they have more than doubled" (LANCE NET, 3/5). ... In Brazil, 4G technology "will not be completely implemented" in the Confederations Cup and World Cup host cities by the time the events come around (UOL, 3/5). ... The Jebel Ali Racecourse in the UAE will stage its final race meeting of the '12-13 season this weekend with the feature race being the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint. The Dh500,000 ($136,000) contest, which was first run in '94, will be sponsored by long-time Jebel Ali supporter Shadwell (GULF NEWS, 3/5). ... Organizers said that "an annual ski race in the Hindu Kush offers Afghanistan the glimpse of a better future." Under the beady eye of Afghan police armed with machine guns, a reminder of the country’s war, local and Western skiers "compete in a grueling test of physical fitness" in the mountains 180km west of Kabul (AFP, 3/5).