Thursday, April 13, 2006

FIFA facing World Cup ticketing and swaps issues

World Cup tickets are trading on the black market because organizers have made it difficult to swap unwanted ones, fan groups and retailers told Ryan Mills of Bloomberg newsagency. Of 2.93 million tickets available for football's showpiece in Germany, fewer than half go directly to the public. Ruling body FIFA put 600,000 on sale after December's draw, when fans first got to know where their teams would be playing and is now restricting swaps. Demand has outstripped supply by five to one. The fifth and final round of applications starts 1 May.

"Fans are put in the unnecessary position of going to the black market because of the absurd way that FIFA runs the whole thing," Kevin Miles, an international coordinator for England's Football Supporters Federation, told Bloomberg.

FIFA last month started its own web site for transfers and yesterday set up a service allowing fans to appeal to an ombudsman if their request is turned down. Fans may only swap unwanted tickets under circumstances including illness or death, failure to get a German visa, or an 'act of God'. The ruling body also allows transfers within the family and says more widespread trading would be unfair to fans banking on the lottery. There were 52,653 transfer requests and 10,919 tickets for resale as of 9 April.

FIFA says 'black market' buyers risk being denied entry to games because tickets contain a chip with information personal to the original purchaser.

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