Wednesday, June 28, 2006

One man and his log Cologne

Monday 26th June Schwabach. Köln.

Tickets for games at this World Cup have been seen as prized possessions, something akin to the Golden tickets issued giving admittance to Willie Wonka's chocolate factory. Outside the stadiums people proudly have their photographs taken by friends, stadium in the background clutching their ticket. People will enquire about how you got your ticket and tell you how lucky you are. But for each ticket I have there is usually a tale to tell. For example in the last few days a Japanese friend (thanks Tetsuma!) emailed me to explain that he had received an offer of a conditional ticket for the game in Köln, and asked if I would like to use it.

Cologne.


The conditional tickets were one of many different options FIFA offered, with this scheme the wording on the website led you to believe that if you applied for a ticket for seven games they would give you a ticket for one of them, although there could only be 36 hours between an e-mail being received and the match itself.

There followed the small matter of working my way round the regulations that FIFA have introduced, so thanks to Tetsuma not feeling well (I hope you are better now) and my dad not having used his allocation of seven tickets (Thanks dad!). I was able to take up this offer.

Further luck was to come my way as at the same time as sorting all this out I received an e-mail advising me that I had been awarded a conditional ticket for Hannover, the next day.

Tuesday 27th June Köln. Hannover.

In this latest round of games, those people with tickets in their hands outside were no longer the lucky punters but those who thought they were about to make some ill-gotten gains. Apart from the Mexico, Germany and England games this has not been the case.

Hannover.


Immediately outside the ground I heard a Frenchman trying to sell a ticket proclaiming firstly that the game was sold out (aren't they all!) and that it would be Zidane's last game!(Guess the French didn't fancy their chances beforehand).

People were trying to sell tickets for at least €250 and those in the know could see that the demand for tickets was no longer there and at kick off tickets for the game would be available for less than face value.

The policing of the tournament has been well handled and it looked as though initially touts would have a free reign. But softly, softly policing has seen police step in, checking that the tickets touts were selling were genuine and then when problems arose taking people away for further questioning when it was found that they were selling tickets for more than face value. This has been a commom sense approach, which goes against all that has been said by FIFA.

There have been checks on people's identity at the turnstiles but when people have been identified as having a ticket in another persons name they have simply been asked to complete formalities to change the name on the ticket, and have not been charged for this!

Among the tickets I have obtained on the black market were ones issued by the Paraguayan FA, Mastercard and Security!!! I was aware before I came out of the fact that tickets close to the pitch had not been sold as FIFA were concerned over safety issues, and that they had asked the military if they would provide personnel to occupy those seats. The military agreed but stated that its people would be in uniform. FIFA declined this offer and seem to have given tickets instead to their own security personnel. So there I was on the front row with access to the pitch to avoid the plastic cups being thrown by the Koreans after the second Swiss goal was allowed to stand.

Why should a football fan who has acquired a ticket be denied the right to watch the game that they have chosen to purchase a ticket for? FIFA's talk of punishing those that support the game is a worry that the ticketing issue may go the wrong way. In Greece for the Olympics, people were not allowed to sell tickets for more than face value, this eliminated extortionate prices and generally meant that people offloading tickets sold them at a discount and if there was a buoyant market the touts could sell them at face value.

You could argue that FIFA feel upset that they have missed out on more revenue and maybe their answer to this would be to auction all tickets to the highest bidder! This could result in a crowd being present that is not remotely interested in the spectacle unfolding in front of them, I for one do not think that FIFA would be able to market the World Cup without the passion and colour the spectators that care, add.

Copyright (c) Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com

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