12,000 Pay to Watch Portugal Practice

VIENNA, June 3 (Reuters) - A crowd of 12,000 people have paid to watch Portugal's Euro 2008 squad hold an open practice in Neuchatel, a team spokesman said.

Tickets worth 15 Swiss francs ($14.42) to watch the Group A favourites at Neuchatel's La Maladiere stadium on Tuesday (1630 GMT) have sold out and are being negotiated on the black market at four times that price, Portuguese online media said.

'There will be 12,000 people to watch the practice, that's already confirmed,' team spokesman Antonio Florencio said over the telephone from Neuchatel.

Portugal arrived to a rousing welcome from an estimated 10,000 crowd of expatriate Portuguese at their tournament hotel in the lakeside city on Sunday evening, media reported.

'Neuchatel is a little piece of Portugal in the middle of Europe,' said maisfutebol.iol.pt

Carlos Godinho, the squad's technical director, said Portugal were charging for two training sessions to help meet high costs of their participation in the tournament. There is another open session scheduled for Sunday.

'We are the only national team that has paid training sessions, but we're also the only one that will have training in front of 12,000 people,' he told reporters.

However, fans were less happy with the large security operation surrounding the team, whose hotel has been declared out of bounds to anyone not attached to the squad, reports said.

There was a security vessel on the lake to ensure no-one got within 300 metres of the hotel grounds and large black panels around the hotel to prevent contact with players.

Portugal, who trained twice behind closed doors on Monday, meet Turkey in Geneva on Saturday in their opening group match. They also face co-hosts Switzerland and Czech Republic.

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