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    CHRONO SPORTS

  • Sunday, May 28, 2000

    Soccer support urged

    Ticket sales stall for exhibition game

    By JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

     They have been embraced as soccer mini-gods.

     Team Canada players were deemed "Holger's Heroes" after head coach Holger Osieck led the side to an upset Gold Cup victory earlier this year.

     So local soccer officials were scratching their heads over the slow ticket sales for Canada's exhibition match against Honduras at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex Tuesday.

     As of yesterday afternoon, only 4,000 ducats had been sold.

     "I'm kind of concerned that, three days before the game, the public hasn't moved forward faster," Manitoba Soccer Association president Frank Capasso said at the Complex, where the final touches to expand it to accommodate 10,000 fans were being completed yesterday.

     "This game is very important to the national team because it's preparation for the World Cup qualifier against Cuba. And we're the Gold Cup champions so I thought that would excite people, too."

     Canada plays Cuba in Havana on June 4, then back in Winnipeg, June 11.

     "I can't put my finger on it," said MSA vice-president Tony Nocita, a former national team player. "But we're still holding out hope that more soccer fans will show their support in the next couple of days.

     "I know what these guys are going through and this game is very important to them. It's a tough road and they need all the support they can get."

     Local officials also have selfish reasons for wanting to fill the pews. With changes planned for Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium, Winnipeg would become the only city in the country with a soccer stadium that could seat 10,000.

     "If we're successful, we could become the new home for the national team," Capasso said. "We could also have women's World Cup games and host games for the national under-23 team here."

     The June 11 World Cup qualifier will also be televised to 35 different countries by CTV Sportsnet.

     "And this is the opportunity of a lifetime for our kids because they can watch the national team play here," Capasso said.

     Organizers are offering special prizes for a group or individual who can sell blocks of tickets. Individual ducats go for $30 and $15 at Select-A-Seat and both the MCA (925-5752) and Winnipeg Youth Soccer Association (233-8899) offices.



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