France to deploy 110,000

police during final


Authorities will deploy 110,000 police and security forces across France this weekend to secure the huge street parties if "Les Bleus" win the World Cup on Sunday, after years of attacks targeting crowds and other so-called "soft" targets. The massive security effort has been complicated by France's national day, Bastille Day, which falls on Saturday. Few French can think of the traditional national holiday parties and firework displays without recalling the 86 people mown down two years ago by a van in the Mediterranean coastal resort of Nice. The country has been repeatedly targeted by extremists over previous years in attacks that have claimed 246 lives since January 2015, according to an AFP toll. "Everything is being done so the French can live these festive moments with peace of mind, despite the terrorist threat which remains at a high level," Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Friday.




Fraudsters scam Nigerians with World Cup passes

Fraudsters have tricked scores of Nigerians by selling them football World Cup fan passes to travel to Russia, leaving many stranded and penniless, victims and anti-trafficking campaigners say. Some Nigerians told AFP they used the official Fan IDs to come to Russia with the promise of finding work or even playing professional football themselves. Others said they came to watch World Cup matches but got stranded when their return plane tickets were cancelled by bogus travel agencies that booked them. Ismail Olamilekan, 21, and his brother Sodiq, 25, said they paid 250,000 naira (600 euros, $700) each to a man in Lagos for their Fan IDs. "The man told us that with the Fan ID we could get a job and stay here," Ismail told AFP at a hostel on the outskirts of Moscow. "But when we got here we discovered that it was a fraud, that he had just collected the money and lied to us."



Argentina's Nestor

Pitana to referee final

Nestor Pitana of Argentina will referee the World Cup final between France and Croatia, FIFA announced on Thursday. Pitana, a former actor who has already refereed four games including the tournament opener between host nation Russia and Saudi Arabia and France's quarter-final win over Uruguay, will take charge of Sunday's showpiece at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. He will have two more Argentines, Hernan Maidana and Juan Pablo Belatti as assistant referees. Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers will be the fourth official backed up by another Dutchman, Erwin Zeinstra. In addition to handling a French victory, Pitana was also in charge when Croatia beat Denmark in the last 16 on penalties. The 43-year-old's other game in Russia was Sweden's 3-0 group-stage victory over Mexico. In Brazil in 2014, Pitana refereed four matches. The last was France's 1-0 loss to eventual champions Germany in the quarter-finals.

For the third-place playoff between Belgium and England in Saint Petersburg on Saturday, FIFA have selected Iranian referee Alireza Faghani.




France shirts fly off shelves before World Cup final

Football fever has gripped the French capital and sales of the national team’s soccer shirts are surging ahead of France’s World Cup final against Croatia on Sunday. Fans thronged stores on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees and the capital’s Republique area to buy replica shirts bearing the names of the team’s stars, such as teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe and N’Golo Kante. “We’ve had loads of orders for shirts and we’ve practically sold them all already,” said a manager at the NSH Football store in Paris. “There have been a lot of orders for Mbappe and Kante shirts.” Others found novel ways to mark the World Cup. Parisian baker Didier Lavry who runs the Petit Mitron boulangerie made a special “Tricolore” cake before France’s showdown. The dark-blue shirts of “Les Bleus” could be seen in the city’s bars and cafes as Paris prepared for a bumper weekend with the July 14 Bastille Day holiday followed by the final, in which France is viewed as the favourite.