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MP against MPs' free World Cup tickets

PUBLISHED: 08:45 05 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 22 October 2010

PAUL HILL

The parliamentary football team should not accept free World Cup tickets from food giant McDonalds when MPs have "political judgments to make about what food people should eat," according to the Norfolk MP who coaches the team.

The parliamentary football team should not accept free World Cup tickets from food giant McDonalds when MPs have "political judgments to make about what food people should eat," according to the Norfolk MP who coaches the team.

Dr Ian Gibson, Labour MP for Norwich North and assistant coach of the MPs' football team, revealed that he had urged the team not to accept free tickets to England's opening game in Germany next weekend - and said he would rather watch at home rather than accept a corporate gift.

His comments come amid growing criticism of the all-party team of MPs as thousands of ordinary football fans struggle to get hold of tickets for the tournament.

McDonald's, an official World Cup sponsor, said it had supplied 23 tickets worth about £68 each to the team of MPs and researchers to watch England play Paraguay in Frankfurt.

But Dr Gibson told the EDP that he had "learned the lessons" of Euro 2004 in Portugal, when he joined the parliamentary team on a trip to the tournament with the backing of corporate sponsors.

"I'd love to go to the World Cup - but if I were to go, but it would be at my own expense," he said.

"We made the mistake last time of going to Portugal for the European championships (in 2004) - and if I went to Germany I think I'd lose the support of people who are real football fans.

"The issue is how to get tickets to fans, not to dignitaries."

Dr Gibson added: "When we are trying to make political judgments about what people should eat and thinking about eating disorders, we shouldn't have a food company sponsoring this sort of thing.

"I've told the team what I think - there are quite a few MPs not going on principle because of it."

A McDonald's spokeswoman said: "The majority of tickets that we have had have been given to the fans.

"We recently ran a promotion so 746 pairs of tickets have gone directly to fans."

John Leech, one of the MPs who plays for the parliamentary side, said he understood fans' frustration, but stressed that the team was travelling to Germany to play two charity matches, and individuals had paid all their own travel and accommodation expenses.

"I wasn't going to Germany to go to the football, I was going to play football," Mr Leech said.

"We're giving money to charity as part of the trip and we play games to raise awareness of good causes, so it's very sad that it's turned around and twisted to suggest we're just getting a freebie."


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