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Chelsea bans Greeks from buying tickets March 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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In anticipation of its next Champions League game, English club says those of Greek nationality who are not members of the team’s club will have their online orders canceled for the match against Greece

If Alexi Lalas or Peter Vagenas wanted to make a quick trip to England to watch Chelsea play Olympiakos of Greece in a European Champions League match on Wednesday, they would be out of luck.

The Galaxy supposedly has a “special relationship” with the English Premier League club, but that would not make any difference.

Lalas, the Galaxy’s president, and Vagenas, its veteran midfielder, both have Greek surnames, and Chelsea, astonishingly, is banning anyone with Greek roots from obtaining tickets to the game. Or at least those who are not official members of the club.

“Nonmembers of a Greek nationality buying tickets for the Olympiakos game will have their orders canceled,” Chelsea said on its official website.

It already has happened. English newspapers reported that one fan, Peter Pakos, had tried to buy two tickets to the match for almost $200, only to be rebuffed. “It’s incredible discrimination,” Pakos told reporters. “It’s shortsighted and clumsy. We may have a Greek background, but we’re Chelsea fans through and through.”

Stung by such unwanted publicity, Chelsea late Friday said that its policy extended only to those buying tickets online. Those buying in person would not be affected, it said.

The club said its policy was in accordance with UEFA regulations on the segregation of fans, and that it was trying to prevent Olympiakos supporters in Greece from buying tickets online for seats reserved for Chelsea fans.

Chelsea and Olympiakos tied, 0-0, in Greece in the first game and Wednesday’s winner will advance to the Champions League quarterfinals.

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