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Have FA scored own goal in allowing Polish fans 18,000 tickets for England showdown?

 

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The Football Association has defended its decision to sell 18,000 tickets to Poland fans for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier with England at Wembley but some fans will think its an own goal ahead of the crucial World Cup clash.

Under FIFA rules, visiting teams are allowed 10% of the seats available in qualification matches, entitling Poland to 9,000 tickets in the 90,000 stadium.

But the FA has decided to give Poland double that amount due to a large number of Poles living in and around London, and over health and safety fears caused by away fans buying tickets in the home section.

"The FA, working with the Polish FA, have provided 18,000 tickets to Polish supporters," an FA spokesman said.

"With high demand for tickets from the large Polish community in England the FA took the decision, based on safety grounds, to ensure Polish fans were allocated space in a specific area of the ground rather than attempting to buy tickets in home areas.

"Tickets in the home areas have been restricted to previous buyers only, with no tickets now remaining for this fixture.

"This is the same process that was employed for the successful Scotland and Republic of Ireland fixtures earlier this year."

It is understood that the FA took the decision to double the Polish allowance in consultation with the police.

Poland have not played at Wembley since a 1999 Euro 2000 qualifier, when Paul Scholes hit a hat-trick in a 3-1 England win.

It is bound to give the visitors a bigger 'shout' even though Poland can no longer qualify.

But, England left-back Leighton Baines has defended the Football Association's decision.

Baines told the BBC: "If away fans add to the atmosphere the home fans produce, it just adds to the occasion."

England lead Group H on 19 points and will guarantee a place at Brazil 2014 if they follow Friday's 4-1 win over Montenegro with another victory.

A draw or defeat would open the door for Ukraine, who are second on 18 points, to top the group, providing they win their final qualifier against pointless San Marino.

That eventuality would see England head into a two-leg play-off against one of the other seven best runners-up from the European qualifying groups.

Poland held Roy Hodgson's side to a 1-1 draw in Warsaw earlier in the qualifying campaign.

JB.

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