Wales

Euro 2016 semi-final: Wales fans set for Portugal match

Wales fans in Cardiff fan zone Image copyright Getty Images

Thousands of Wales fans have travelled to France for the biggest football match in the nation's history.

Wales will appear in their first semi-final of a major tournament when they play Portugal in Lyon at 20:00 BST.

The winners of that game will face either France or Germany in Sunday's Euro 2016 final.

Fan zones have been set up around Wales, including at Cardiff's Principality Stadium which will hold 27,500 fans who obtained tickets.

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Image caption Fans in Lyon say "don't take me home"

An extra 7,500 tickets made available for the Cardiff venue sold out on Wednesday morning in just over an hour.

Those who have secured tickets have been advised to arrive early as extra security measures are in place which may delay entry to the stadium.

Westgate Street in Cardiff will close from 18:00 until 23:30 and Arriva Trains Wales is adding capacity to services where possible.

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Media captionCatherine Zeta-Jones tells the team "just sock it to 'em!"
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Media captionEuro 2016: Watch all of Wales' goals

But Mark Jones, the Blackwood student who campaigned for a Cardiff fan zone, did not manage to get a ticket.

"It's not just gutted for myself but I'm gutted for what seem to be the vast majority of fans who haven't been able to get a ticket and had been to the previous games," he said.

"I can't understand why the council can't open Coopers Field [where the fan zone previously was] as well."

There will also be fan zones in Singleton Park, Swansea, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Denbighshire, Aberystwyth, Anglesey, Newport, Pontypridd and Wrexham.

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Image caption Wales fever has swept pupils at Pengam Primary in Caerphilly
Image copyright Ysgol Y Preseli
Image caption Older, but not much taller! Joe Allen was a star for his school team, Ysgol Y Preseli

One of the many proud Welshmen watching tonight will be Michael Davies - the head teacher at Joe Allen's former school, Ysgol Y Preseli in Crymych, Pembrokeshire.

He said: "His performances have been quite inspirational - he's the man that brings everything together in terms of the Welsh midfield."

Insurance giant Admiral is closing its Cardiff, Swansea and Newport offices at 19:00 instead of the usual 22:00 so the 600 employees in those sites can watch the game, with staff outside Wales covering customer calls.

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Image caption Rhondda Cynon Taf council leader Andrew Morgan and mayor Rhys Lewis presented Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall with Wales kits for Prince George and Princess Charlotte while they visited the Pontypridd lido

Prince Charles has sent a message to the team, saying: "Throughout the whole championship, you have set an inspiring example of teamwork and sportsmanship and I have no doubt that in this latest game you will continue to give your country even greater cause for pride."

First Minister Carwyn Jones said, after waiting 58 years for a place in a major football tournament, "Euro 2016 really is turning into a dream come true for Wales".

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns added: "You have to look to the fairytale triumph of Leicester City Football Club for something similarly inspiring. This Welsh team truly are the history boys."

At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, David Cameron said: "They have played superbly and we wish them all the best."

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Image caption Chris Coleman said Euro 2016 is not the end of the journey for Wales

The Football Supporters' Federation Cymru said it expected more than 20,000 Welsh fans to head to Lyon.

John Welch, 57, who has made the trip from Australia, said he was "getting goosies" thinking about the game.

Mr Welch, originally of Cardiff but now of Perth, flew from Australia to Lyon after his wife, Jacqui, surprised him with a flight ticket.

The father of five said he was desperate to "be here and taste the atmosphere" - even if it was just in the city's fan zone.

"I didn't think it was possible and then the wife said, 'I've booked this. It's one chance in a lifetime. You might never ever go again.'"

The flight cost £1,400 (2,500 Australian dollars).

Image caption Wales fan John Welch has flown all the way from Australia to watch the game

Martyn O'Rourke, 61, of Ogmore-by-Sea, said it was "fantastic" to be in Lyon.

He said: "I think we'll win. Belgium [who Wales beat 3-1 in the last round] are stronger than Portugal."

His wife, Karen, 59, said it was "definitely" time for Bale to outshine his Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.

Image caption Martin and Karen O'Rourke are "quietly confident" of a Wales win

The face value of tickets in the semis range from £55 (65 euros) to £420 (495 euros).

Vince Alm, of the Football Supporters' Federation Cymru, said the pricing was not fair on "real fans".

The prices for those who bought a Follow My Team voucher before the tournament were, however, much cheaper.

Lower category tickets were being sold via ticket agencies, touts and private individuals at about double the face value, he said.

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Mr Alm said he expected 12,000 Wales fans to pack into the 59,183-capacity stadium and outnumber those from Portugal.

The fan zone in Lyon's Place Bellecour has a capacity of 20,000, with a big screen and pre-match entertainment.

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