2006 World Cup Organizers Uncover Ticket Scam Eminating from USA

FRANKFURT Germany - (AP)- World Cup organizers uncovered a fraudulent attempt in the United States to order more than 2 million tickets for soccer's showcase event next year in Germany.

With 8.7 million applications for the first 812000 tickets a computerized system was used Friday to select buyers in a random ballot. Those selected will be informed on April 22.

The scam order from the U.S. contained false postal and e-mail addresses and phone numbers said Horst Schmidt a vice president of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee.

"We were at first shocked by this attempt because we hadn't counted on something like this'' Schmidt said.

"We believe it was an attempt by scalpers to increase their chances of getting tickets.''

Another 1.3 million orders also were deemed irregular -- such as tickets for more than one game on the same day -- and were void Schmidt said.

Schmidt said lawyers in the U.S. were exploring possible legal action against the suspected scalpers. Those behind the plot haven't been identified.

"I hope we can rule out similar attempts but I can't say for sure'' Schmidt said.

Of the 8.7 million valid orders 93 percent came from Europe with 89 percent of those from Germany.

After Germany the second-largest order came from Britain with 164000 requests. The U.S. made 146000 genuine orders. Among the others 16 came from the Vatican six from Iraq and one from Kyrgyzstan.

"We will make a lot of people happy but a lot more will be disappointed'' FIFA vice president David Will said. "All I can say is 'keep on trying.' This is just the first attempt.''

The next phase of ticket sales opens May 1. The World Cup opens June 9 2006 in Munich.