English ticket touts fly in and defy risk of jail

Ja­panese po­lice threaten ‘zero tol­er­ance’ pol­icy Seats quoted at £12,000 as de­mand for fi­nal soars

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup -

SPORTS NEWS COR­RE­SPON­DENT in Tokyo

World Cup or­gan­is­ers have warned Eng­land fans in Ja­pan to avoid black mar­ket tick­ets for the fi­nal af­ter The Daily Tele­graph dis­cov­ered dozens of Bri­tish touts were risk­ing jail by selling on the streets of Tokyo.

Seats for Satur­day’s game were be­ing sold just yards from the of­fi­cial me­ga­s­tore yes­ter­day for £1,500 (210,011 yen) by sev­eral known fig­ures who are reg­u­larly seen out­side train sta­tions at Wem­b­ley and Twick­en­ham. They flew 6,000 miles to cash in de­spite re­ports of a zero tol­er­ance re­sponse by po­lice, who pre­vi­ously ar­rested three French men selling coun­ter­feit scarfs and held them in cus­tody for 72 hours be­fore de­port­ing them.

Some Eng­land fans par­ty­ing in Tokyo’s Shin­juku area are also tread­ing a fine line with Ja­pan’s strict laws.

There were claims yes­ter­day that po­lice had been called to at least two cases of drunk sup­port­ers walk­ing out of karaoke bars without pay­ing.

Ja­pan has one of the world’s low­est crime rates, in part due to the se­vere pun­ish­ments handed out by au­thor­i­ties, and tourists can be held for al­most a month without bail.

How­ever, one Eng­land fan who bought a ticket off a tout yes­ter­day had no qualms. “The touts are mak­ing so much money out here be­cause the re­ward is worth the risk of pri­son. The tout that sold me mine told me about po­lice be­ing strict out here so I picked mine up from a Mcdon­ald’s. I have ab­so­lutely no re­grets. I went to the last game and there isn’t even a turn­stile at the Yoko­hama sta­dium.”

The clam­our for tick­ets in the UK con­tin­ued to reach new heights yes­ter­day, with re­sale web­site Stub­hub now quot­ing prices of more than £12,000 for seats in hos­pi­tal­ity. The surge in prices prompted World Rugby to warn fans they risked be­ing turned away from the sta­dium. The or­gan­is­ers namechecke­d Vi­a­gogo and Stub­hub in a state­ment plead­ing with fans to avoid them.

How­ever, Eng­land fans said or­gan­is­ers should take some of the blame. “They need to do away with the bal­lot and re­ward Eng­land fans who reg­u­larly get to games,” said Max Anglin, 28, from west Lon­don, who es­ti­mated he spent £10,000 on trav­el­ling to Ja­pan and buy­ing hos­pi­tal­ity from of­fi­cial chan­nels.

Rob Col­lar, 26, a man­age­ment con­sul­tant from south Lon­don, added: “My friend spent six hours in a queue on the World Rugby web­site be­fore it crashed. No won­der peo­ple are us­ing touts.”

World Rugby, mean­while, said: “Hundreds of fans have un­for­tu­nately been de­nied en­try as they have bought tick­ets un­of­fi­cially on­line, via touts or through other

‘My friend spent six hours in queue on the of­fi­cial web­site be­fore it crashed’

un­of­fi­cial sources. Vi­a­gogo and Stub­hub are not of­fi­cial re­tail­ers and fans who have pur­chased via these sources, amongst oth­ers, have been left dis­ap­pointed and un­able to watch matches,” the gov­ern­ing body said. “Our mes­sage to fans is not to risk it.”

A lim­ited num­ber of tick­ets went on sale overnight as a re­sult of “hand­backs and venue con­fig­u­ra­tion”, but the vast ma­jor­ity of New Zealand and Wales fans look­ing to off­load tick­ets have done so via Face­book and re­sale web­sites.

Sir Bill Beau­mont, chair­man of World Rugby, said: “We are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing un­prece­dented ex­cite­ment and an­tic­i­pa­tion ahead of the Rugby World Cup 2019 fi­nal. With huge de­mand there is al­ways risk of fans be­ing caught out and not gain­ing en­try when buy­ing tick­ets from un­of­fi­cial re­tail­ers or sources. There­fore our mes­sage is al­ways buy of­fi­cial to guar­an­tee your seat in the sta­dium.”

The face value of the cheap­est Cat­e­gory D ticket is around £180, but sev­eral are avail­able on ticket sites for just over four times that value. Cat­e­gory A tick­ets, which cost £720, are be­ing quoted at be­tween £2,000 and £4,000.

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