PARIS (AFP) - Irish hopes of arriving en masse for the second leg of their World Cup playoff with France were dashed on Wednesday when the French federation allocated 10 percent of tickets for visitors to the Stade de France.
Both France and the Republic of Ireland finished second in their respective World Cup groups and were drawn first out of the hat in the draw for the two-leg playoffs that will be contested November 14 and 18.
Ireland host France at Croke Park in Dublin first before the return leg at the Stade de France four days later decides which of the two teams qualifies for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
France coach Raymond Domenech, with bitter memories of 2004 when 30,000 Irish turned up and outsang their French hosts, demanded on Monday that Ireland be limited to a quarter of the total 80,000 available tickets for the Stade de France, namely 20,000.
"We can't have the Irish having more tickets than what they should be allowed, 20,000 - with 60,000 French fans around them," Domenech told AFP.
The French Football Federation (FFF) proved even more stingy on Wednesday when they allocated just 8,000 tickets to the Irish fans.
The FFF's decision was in accordance with their ticket allocation policy during the World Cup qualifiers, although it appears they have also taken Domenech's concerns to heart.
The FFF said no tickets would be sold over the internet to either set of fans, with tickets for the November 18 match going on sale from French retail outlets on Thursday.
The FFF said in a statement: "The Irish supporters are taken care of directly by their federation, with 10 percent of the total ticket allocation being allocated as was done for all the other World Cup qualifiers.
"There will be no sale of tickets over the internet."
A maximum of four tickets will be available per transaction and per person and tickets, once bought, would not be transferable.
French football officials added they would be cracking down on the re-sale of tickets at the stadium but also through the internet.
In 2004 Ireland, backed by a 30,000 strong support, held France to a 0-0 draw in a World Cup qualifier in France, although France won 1-0 in Dublin.
When asked whether playing the second leg this time at home would boost French hopes of going to the finals in South Africa next summer, Domenech added: "I don't know, we'll see once it's finished.
"In any case, we need to get (French) people coming to the stadium in numbers. We don't want a repeat of 2004 when we played at home with 30,000 Irish fans on our backs.
"The French have to jump on those tickets so the Irish don't snap them all up. That will be a first small victory for us."
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