The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Sport - WORLD CUP SPE­CIAL D JUNE 15, 2018

SCALPERS are still op­er­at­ing at the World Cup, de­spite claims of a crack­down by FIFA and Rus­sian or­ga­niz­ers on illicit ticket sales. Sell­ers have been vis­i­ble out­side the main ticket of­fice in Moscow, buy­ing spare tick­ets from for­eign fans and sell at in­flated prices.

An As­so­ci­ated Press reporter was ap­proached six times within an hour and of­fered tick­ets in­clud­ing a lux­ury Cat­e­gory 1 seat at the open­ing game Thurs­day be­tween Rus­sia and Saudi Ara­bia. One was of­fered at $700, or $150 above the stan­dard price.

The most in-de­mand tick­ets, such as for Ar­gentina’s open­ing game, are be­ing of­fered on­line for as much as $2,300, though buy­ers have no guar­an­tee they’re get­ting gen­uine ac­cess to the games.

FIFA has tried to can­cel some tick­ets and last week filed a crim­i­nal com­plaint against ticket re­sale web­site Vi­a­gogo. Rus­sia has made World Cup scalp­ing pun­ish­able by a fine for in­di­vid­ual sell­ers of up to 25 times the ticket’s face value.

De­spite the tough talk from Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties, po­lice sta­tioned at the ticket of­fice on a night ear­lier this week did lit­tle be­sides briefly in­spect one seller’s doc­u­ments.

Each World Cup ticket must be reg­is­tered to an in­di­vid­ual, but sell­ers ex­ploit a loop­hole in FIFA’S sys- tem al­low­ing fans to buy up to four tick­ets then change the reg­is­tered names to three of them. So long as the new re­cip­i­ent has at least one ticket of their own — and so is reg­is­tered in Rus­sia’s Fan ID sys­tem — a switch is pos­si­ble.

“You just need ID,” said one seller, who said he was from France and had sold “lots” of tick­ets in the last month. He of­fered two tick­ets that had been is­sued un­der Rus­sian men’s names while stand­ing next to the ticket of­fice sign that said “tick­ets are not avail­able for most games.”

Like oth­ers, he de­clined to give his name be­cause the re-sell­ing is il­le­gal.

Another seller claimed he’d re­ceived com­pli­men­tary tick­ets and was sell­ing them to fund his World Cup jour­ney. “Be­cause FIFA’S given me this ticket, it’s like a game to make money,” he said, dis­play­ing tick­ets to four dif­fer­ent games. He then ex­changed phone num­bers with a fan, ap­par­ently to ar­range a han­dover else­where.

Five men with English ac­cents worked as a group, split­ting up to ap­proach fans in the queue for the sales of­fice. One held a thick wad of tick­ets.

Still, it’s a case of buyer be­ware. There’s no re­li­able way to check if the tick­ets are fake, have been can­celed or whether the seller re­ally changed the reg­is­tra­tion.

“A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of unau­tho­rized on­line ticket sales, of­fered via web­sites and on so­cial me­dia orig­i­nat- ing from var­i­ous coun­tries, have been stopped,” FIFA said in a state­ment. “Over­all FIFA counts on the co­op­er­a­tion of the re­spec­tive au­thor­i­ties to pro­tect fans from scalpers in line with the ap­pli­ca­ble reg­u­la­tions.” FIFA didn’t re­spond to a ques­tion re­gard­ing scalpers op­er­at­ing out­side the ticket of­fice.

FIFA pol­icy states reg­is­tra­tions should only be changed to a per­son with “a pre-ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ship with the ticket pur­chaser.”

FIFA’S sys­tem doesn’t al­low the orig­i­nal buyer of a group book­ing to change their own reg­is­tra­tion, only those of other guests, so a fan could end watch­ing the game next to their scalper. – AP

Soc­cer fans from dif­fer­ent coun­tries gather at the main ticket of­fice in Moscow, Rus­sia, Thurs­day. Photo: AP

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