Football: World Cup organisers launch crackdown on ticket touts

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The Independent Online
The World Cup organisers will take firm action to stop any unauthorised trade in tickets for this summer's tournament. Nick Harris reports.

The French Organising Committee for the World Cup (CFO) will take all measures necessary to ensure that tickets for the tournament are sold according to its rules.

As The Independent revealed yesterday, World Cup tickets are being advertised - particularly on the Internet - by unauthorised agents. A CFO spokeswoman said yesterday: "If we have evidence that tickets are bought through unauthorised sources, we will stop the tickets."

Tickets will not be distributed until late in May and the CFO's most effective method of stopping a black market will be simply not to issue tickets where it can prove they are part of an unauthorised trade.

The CFO hopes this will encourage fans only to buy through authorised operators. If they buy via unauthorised sources, they risk either buying a ticket they will not receive or one they might not be able to use.

In cases where the CFO believes that tickets have been bought on the black market, it may organise random identity checks on match days. Fans in possession of such tickets will risk being refused entry.

The spokeswoman said that, in the meantime, the CFO would investigate all instances around the world where unauthorised trade is suspected. The Independent reported yesterday that an unofficial American-based agency, 24/7 Ticket Service, is offering to sell via the Internet tickets it claims are provided by Fifa- approved operators.

The spokeswoman said: "Fifa and the CFO are investigating all reports of tickets being sold on the Internet and through unauthorised sources at inflated prices. We are taking this very seriously."

The CFO said that anyone found selling tickets suspected of being unauthorised would be asked to prove their sources. If they are found to be contravening CFO rules, they will be warned to stop. If they persist, the CFO hopes to take legal action to stop them. "Our lawyers are looking, country by country, to see what action we can take as soon as possible," the spokeswoman said.

The CFO has already taken action against a company in France which was advertising that it was buying and selling tickets. The CFO stopped the trade by asking a newspaper to stop carrying the agent's advertisements and by threatening the agent with legal action. The CFO said it was also looking into other similar cases in France.

The organisers also clarified yesterday precisely how many tickets are available for each game and how they will be allocated. Around 61 per cent of the stadiums' net capacities have been allocated to French fans, 20 per cent to Fifa (for competing teams' fans and national federations), 12 per cent to sponsors (around a third of these being for French sponsors) and around seven per cent to Fifa-approved tour operators.

The CFO also pointed out that the number of tickets actually available during the World Cup is considerably fewer than has been widely reported.

England's opening game, for example, on 15 June against Tunisia, takes place in the 60,000-capacity Stade Velodrome in Marseilles. The capacity for World Cup games, however, will be 50,000 at most and possibly less.

This is because the media platform for journalists and TV cameras takes up the space of 8,000 seats, up to 1,000 seats have been set aside for VIP use, and other seats will not be used because their view will be obscured for a variety of reasons (including TV cameras).