The ticketing trauma

The nightmare scenario being predicted with tickets for the World Cup is closer to something from Dante’s ‘Inferno’ than a Tournament run by a country that prides itself on its “efficiency” and had six years to get its system in order.

Take a number!
Take a number!

Nearly 25,000 tickets per match were given to official partners. When one considers the amount of promotions which demanded you guzzle soft-drink, leap on a plane and charge it all up on your credit card just to give you a chance to win some tickets, the number almost seems conservative.

But it’s not just the sponsors who have looked to make a quick buck of the back of the fans desire to get to see their heroes in action. Plenty of online agencies are selling tickets at vastly inflated prices.

One online agency offered Category One tickets to the opening match between Germany and Costa Rica for $1265, an increase of more than 200 percent on the face value of $383.

However Category One tickets for Australia’s first game against Japan are being hawked by the firm for $1,900, a staggering increase from the official price of $128.

A trip into the cyber backalleys of the ticket tout do little to improve your chances of watching a match and affording to eat in the same calendar year.

The online auction site of ebay has become a haven for such touts and a quick scan sees plenty of tickets for sale and plenty of people looking to make a profit.

One seller who goes under the name “trek5” has a set of three tickets to Mexico v Iran on sale for $709, this for a ticket which has a face value of $128.

Name and number

It’s all too easy.

The organising committee has attempted to battle touts by insisting that every ticket be labelled with a name and passport number. But this system seems to have caused more problems than it solved.

It has even drawn criticism from FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who has pleaded with them to change the system.

“There has been no movement towards a more flexible solution because they say they have to control every single visitor to the stadium,” he said at a press conference in London. While Blatter acknowledged that it was also part of a wider security plan, he could see the problems that most fans have been howling about for months.

“It’s obvious if you do this it will cause delays. How long will it take to let people into the stadium?” Blatter continued. But despite this stonewall of security it is doing little to deter touts.

The ingenious “trek5” offers this advice while selling his tickets: “The tickets are personalized but it is unlikely that ID checks will be performed entering the stadium. It has never happened in any of the past World Cups. Returns and replacement of the ticket are ruled out. Since the FIFA does not allow the resale of the tickets, you should purchase them to be used as a souvenir only. If instead you prefer to go to the stadium and watch the game, it will be your sole responsibility.”

There are also many other touts who are cashing in on the generousity (a term to be used loosely) of sponsors whose many giveaways have seen their tickets end up on the auctions sites.

Many sellers claim to be selling tickets won via the lottery and some even claim to be sponsors selling their tickets themselves. Seller “resanal_sh” is offering three VIP packages to France v Korea and claims the tickets were “bought to be given out to company executives and clients. Three of them can not make the trip, hence the resale.”


The writing is on the wall

The only way of legally transferring a ticket is through the special portal set up on the official FIFA website. This portal has been inundated with tens of thousands of requests, which are then presided over by a ticket ombudsman.

Some fans have had nothing but complaints from go to whoa. “To start with it was impossible to get tickets through the website, you just can’t get through,” said Matt Brien, an Australian travelling to Germany for the event.

“We put in our preferences for certain games, which we could get at any time depending on where we were in the waiting list, this made it hard to plan our trip as you never knew which city you might need to get to.

“But suddenly they were offering tickets to the games we were supposedly waiting for, yet you going get through on the website to buy them.

“The transfer of tickets has been the last straw, it has been a nightmare.”

Certainly the enormous demand for tickets will mean that there are always those who will have complaints.

Indeed, the vast majority of past complaints have been around the actions of touts, so it is encouraging that authorities have attempted to do something about the problem. 

The proof will be in the pudding. When the Tournament kicks off on June 9, how the screening process works may well determine the way the tournament is judged.

In the end the real question may be, if these problems can occur in a country like Germany that prides itself on its organization and precision, what sort of problems are we looking at in South Africa, a country that can barely get a team on the park at present, in four years?

Source : Al Jazeera

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