x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

World Cup diary: No compensation for fans who missed semi

Fifa and World Cup organisers rule out paying compensation for hundreds of fans stuck at Durban's new airport.

Fifa and World Cup organisers yesterday ruled out paying compensation for hundreds of fans who missed Spain's semi-final victory over Germany due to congestion at Durban's new airport. Several flights carrying hundreds of fans were turned away from King Shaka airport with an increase in private jets blamed for all the landing slots being filled. There are reports that some fans on board the flights had to be threatened with possible arrest when they reacted furiously to being told their flights were being diverted to Johannesburg. At least one travel company is threatening legal action but Jerome Valcke, the Fifa secretary general, said Fifa was not responsible. Valcke said: "Some Fifa executive committee members and partners also missed the match but it has nothing to do with Fifa. There will be no indemnification by Fifa." The attendance at the Moses Mabhida Stadium was 1,800 below capacity for the semi-final.

Fifa will tighten security for the final and third-place play-off after Wednesday's incursion on to the field by an Italian fan carrying a vuvuzela. The semi-final between Germany and Spain in Durban was interrupted briefly in the fourth minute when the fan ran on to the pitch to protest about the exclusion of a player from Italy's squad. The fan, Mario Ferri, entered the field near Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's net and sprinted almost to midfield before he was caught by security and escorted away by police. He was fined 8,000 rand (Dh3,870) yesterday for the invasion after it was revealed he had flown to South Africa with a wheelchair in his luggage, and pretended to be disabled to gain access to the pitch. He was protesting about the exclusion of Antonio Cassano, the controversial Sampdoria playmaker, from the Italy squad.

Prescient Paul, the octopus oracle who has correctly predicted the outcome of every World Cup match played by Germany, is branching out and will weigh in on the final between Spain and Holland. The Oberhausen Sea Life Aquarium confirmed yesterday that Paul will cast his suction-cupped arms wider in his next prognostication and for the first time to pick a game in which his home country is not involved. Tanja Munzig, the aquarium spokeswoman, says the floppy football fan will make his choice on the Germany-Uruguay match today, then pick the winner of Sunday's final in Johannesburg. He had been Germany's media darling through the World Cup until he correctly picked Spain to defeat Germany on Wednesday night. Most Germans now envision him fried in garlic butter.

Howard Webb of England will referee the final. Fifa has named the 38-year-old former police officer to take charge when Holland and Spain meet at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium on Sunday. Webb has refereed three World Cup matches and has neither shown a red card nor awarded a penalty. He handled Spain's 1-0 loss to Switzerland, then won praise for controlling a dramatic end to Slovakia's 3-2 win that eliminated Italy, the defending champions. He also refereed Brazil's 3-0 second-round victory against Chile. Webb and his assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey will complete a prestigious end-of-season double after officiating the Champions League final in May, when Inter Milan beat Bayern Munich in Madrid.

Wesley Sneijder, the Dutch midfielder who plays for Inter Milan, insisted he wants to stay with the Italian and European champions despite reported interest from Manchester United. Sneijder has been linked with a move this summer to the Premier League giants, among others, after helping take Holland to the final of the World Cup. "I will stay," Sneijder said in remarks reported on Inter's website. "I will play next season with Inter. My heart is in Milan. With Inter I have won everything last season and I still have a lot more to win: the European Supercup, the Italian Supercup and the Cup Winners' Cup, all beautiful trophies." Sneijder, who joined Inter from Real Madrid last summer, is under contract with the Nerazzurri until June 2013.

The 26-year-old proved a key player in Inter winning the Serie A title, Coppa Italia and Champions League trophies last term. Sneijder could sign a two-year contract extension with the European champions after the World Cup.