Own goal

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The Independent Online

It is a strange perversion of the free market when fans pay black-market prices for World Cup tickets, while the team they have travelled half way round the world to support plays to a half-empty stadium. Supporters may not buy the spare tickets legally because the national allocation has been exhausted.

It is a strange perversion of the free market when fans pay black-market prices for World Cup tickets, while the team they have travelled half way round the world to support plays to a half-empty stadium. Supporters may not buy the spare tickets legally because the national allocation has been exhausted.

The arrangements reflected the concern of the host countries to prevent fans, especially England's world-famous hooligan tendency, from arriving without tickets, and resorting to touts (if they had the money), or thuggery (if they did not). It was not – of course – designed to maximise profits for the hosts or Fifa.

The result is pure theatre of the absurd. Not only were tickets supplied late, if at all, but the discrepancy between tickets and would-be purchasers invites precisely the action that Japan's sports minister yesterday demanded measures to prevent: the prospect of those without tickets storming the stadium on match day.

Selling unsold tickets to fans who turn up in person (and sober) could produce a late influx of foreign fans and bankrupt some touts. But it would be infinitely preferable to what is going on now.

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