Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland travelling fans facing tickets melee for Swiss tie

By Allan Preston

The Green and White Army is going to Switzerland - but the devoted football fans are already worried about getting tickets for a must-see away game.

Northern Ireland play the Swiss in a two-leg play-off next month for the prize of a World Cup place in Russia.

The home game in Windsor Park takes place on November 9 with the away fixture in St Jakob Park in Basel on November 12.

Tickets for both matches will be like gold dust - but the second leg will only have around 1,900 allocated tickets for visiting fans out of the 38,500 capacity.

The rules of football's world governing body Fifa state that visiting supporters are entitled to a minimum 5% of tickets.

Gary McAllister, chair of the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs said: "This is something that we've been speaking to the Irish Football Association about and this is an ongoing conversation.

"It is important that those fans who are Campaign Card holders and who have also attended away games during the qualifying campaign are treated fairly."

Looking forward to the home game, he said ticket pricing for Campaign Card holders - who get automatic access to five home World Cup qualifiers - had been "reasonable".

He added that he hoped that pricing for the next campaign would stay at an "equally realistic level".

Tickets for the home game go on sale tomorrow.

Nerves over tickets followed more unusual sources of frustration to some fans.

A graphic showing the draw presented the team names in both English and each country's native tongue - with Northern Ireland being described in Irish as 'Tuaisceart Eireann,'

Fifa later told the Belfast Telegraph it had been a simple graphics error.

Seeing the lighter side of the incident, one fan joked: "And here's me thinking the native way to pronounce it was 'Norn Iron'."

And on Twitter, emoji symbols of all the national flags of participating teams - except Northern Ireland - caused fans to demand the creation of a new graphic.

The Unicode Consortium, which develops international software standards, has previously said Northern Ireland's official flag was the Union flag.

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