World Cup dream turns nightmare

A DREAM trip to watch world cup football in Germany turned in to a nightmare for hundreds of schoolchildren after falling victim to an international ticket scam.

A DREAM trip to watch world cup football in Germany turned in to a nightmare for hundreds of schoolchildren after falling victim to an international ticket scam.

More than 40 pupils from Copleston High School, Ipswich, were due to be watching Portugal v Iran on Saturday afternoon but just hours before the match they received the devastating news that they tickets they had paid for did not exist.

They were among more than 300 children from across the UK left ticket-less after the company that was arranging the trip got caught up in a ticket scam now being investigated by police in both England and Germany.

Dave Little, the school's head of PE, said: “I think disappointment and deflation are probably the best words to sum up how everybody's feeling right now.

“Everybody's devastated, these kids have been waiting months for this.

“For example, we've got one girl who has literally been saving all of her pennies for the last year so that she could come on this trip and she, like everybody, is just so upset.”

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The trip had taken a year to plan and was organised through a company called Active Four who were responsible for arranging tickets for the match as well as providing a range of other activities throughout the weekend.

It was only as the school party were on the coach heading to the stadium in Frankfurt that they received a call from the company to tell them that they had not been able to get hold of tickets.

Mr Little said: “We were literally on our way to the stadium in Frankfurt when we were told that there had been a problem with the tickets.

“They said they had got them through a Swiss company but when they went to pick them up last night there was no-one there and it was all a scam. I'm furious.”

The trip had taken a year to plan and each child paid £380 to go.

Mr Little said: “This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for some of these kids.”

The children spent the day at the Fantasia Land theme park near Cologne instead of going to the game but Mr Little said it was no consolation.

“The reason we have come out here is so the pupils can see a world cup game, the other bits were really just extras to pad out the weekend.”

Mr Little said he would be talking to solicitors as soon as they got home in a bid to get compensation for the children.

The group are due to arrive back in Ipswich on Monday morning.

Several angry parents contacted The Evening Star with one saying: “When I found out I was absolutely seething. My son had been looking forward to this trip since September last year. It was supposed to be the experience of a lifetime but it was ruined and we want our money back.”

Parent Jane Bruce said: “We are so upset and disappointed. But I would like to thank the teachers involved for all they had done.”

While her son Matthew emailed from Germany to say: “I'm cross. We had already been travelling for an hour on our coach to Frankfurt before our teachers received a call informing us that there were no tickets. We were all really gutted as it was the only reason we all wanted to go in the first place. We spent the rest of the afternoon at a theme park but it was yet another kick in the ribs as the big screen in the park was showing a replay of Portugal's opening goal as we got there. I can't believe what's happened.”

Ken Dyas, chairman of Active Four the company which organised the trip for the school, said “it has been the worst weekend of my life” and pledged to do all he could to reimburse customers.

He said: “Basically, the tickets were meant to be delivered but never arrived.”

He confirmed that 384 people were affected - 350 children and 34 adults.

Mr Dyas said: “It is with great regret that our business and therefore our customers have been made victims of an international ticket scam.

“Late afternoon on Friday the company was made aware of the scam involving its world cup experience product - Tickets for All.

“The issue was made apparent when our bank discovered fraudulent activity and notified us immediately.

“The company worked throughout the night with the German police and the (Football Supporters Federation) Fans Embassy to find an 11th hour solution.

“Police in both the UK and Germany have already begun investigations in to the matter on behalf of the companies and individuals who have been defrauded.

“We will be doing all we can to support and assist all those individuals that have been affected.

“Active Four is outraged by this callous act of fraud and will be offering police their full cooperation with any investigations.”

Fifa spokesman Andreas Herren said: "I only know what I have heard from media reports, but this is absolutely regrettable for the young kids, because they have been deprived of a great opportunity to watch World Cup action.

"But unfortunately the incident confirms what Fifa and the local organising committee have been warning against from the start, that only tickets from official sources should be acquired and not other sources of a dubious nature. Unfortunately it is youngsters who are paying a high price for that.''

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