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
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.