One-all draw' in challenge to Word Cup committee

The way in which the Paris-based World Cup organising committee, the CFO, distributed tickets could be held to be discriminatory, according to the Paris Civil Court.

But the 31 MEPs who brought the action against the CFO, represented by Clifford Chance, failed on a technicality last week.

The French judge ruled that the case was inadmissible on the grounds that the MEPs were seeking redress for European citizens while the court could deal with individual claims only.

The MEPs, including Liberal Democrat Graham Watson, wanted the court to refer the CFO's behaviour to the European Court of Justice.

They argued that the CFO had breached the Treaty of Rome by making only a small proportion of the tickets available to people outside France.

The judge held that the arrangements for ticket distribution – specifically the requirement for a French address and the distribution to a limited number of ticket agencies – was capable of infringing European citizens' rights to “fair and equitable access to tickets”.

Watson described the ruling as a “one-all draw”, but added that it had opened the way for fans to sue the CFO in their national courts if they could prove that they had applied sufficiently early.

Watson said: “It is frustrating not to get immediate justice but the CFO has clearly been ruled offside.”

Clifford Chance Paris partner Yves Wehrli welcomed the ruling. He said that even if a fan could prove that he had been “discriminated” against – which the CFO and Clifford Chance dispute – he or she would find it “immensely difficult” to claim damages for the loss of a chance to buy a ticket.