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Fans blast anti-World Cup Wimbledon bosses

Wimbledon tennis officials have been slammed over their treatment of fans wanting to watch England yesterday.

The Telegraph says around 1,500 fans camping out to be first in line for tickets to the tournament were told on Sunday that they would not be allowed to leave their tents to watch the crucial game in Bloemfontein.

Stewards were told to mark people's site passes with time stamps to ensure that they did not leave for more than an hour. Anyone who stayed away longer faced having their tent packed up and removed.

The controversial move is the latest in a series of attempts by the All England Club to turn the tennis tournament into an "anti-World Cup" event.

Officials risked angering fans further yesterday by saying that those who wanted to watch the World Cup should stop "grumbling" and go home.

Stewards admitted that people are usually allowed to leave the queue for as long as they like, despite rules which state that they should stay with their tents.

"The rule has always been the same, but we don't usually enforce it," one said. "I don't know why they are making us do it. It's going to be mayhem."

When the game kicked off at 3pm, a large crowd gathered around one tent, where three friends had set up an 11-inch portable television powered by an electricity generator.

Steve Tonge, a 44-year-old retail manager from Manchester, said: "We guessed they wouldn't let us out of here so we came prepared. I think it's vindictive. They just don't want us to enjoy the football."

A spokesman for the All England Club said: "It's nothing to do with being vindictive. People have a choice: they can either queue or they can watch the football.

"We don't want people turning up, pitching tents and disappearing for the rest of the day because people who do follow the rules will be upset. Whatever the stewards do, someone will grumble."

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Tribal Football Staff

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